Are you reading this because you think your gambling has gotten a bit out of hand? Here are a series of strategies to help you cut down your gambling and keep it under control.
Set a timeframe
With any strategies for cutting down your gambling we recommend setting a time frame to see how everything is going. Set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar so when the date comes around, it gives you a prompt to sit down and think about it.
If your gambling is under control then keep going with these strategies. But if you are still struggling it might be worth trying some quitting strategies, find out more about them here.
Remember the more you gamble the greater the risk of a problem developing.
Planning to gamble
If your goal is to cut down there are two times where planning can help you stick to your goals.
Research shows that people with gambling problems tend to gamble impulsively. If you want to gamble safely it is a good idea to make a plan, each time, before you gamble.
Before you go gambling:
- Decide how long you will spend gambling - Set yourself an alarm on your phone to remind you when time is up.
- How much money you will spend gambling - If you are going out, only take a set amount of money with you and don’t take your cards with you.
- Limit access to your cash and credit - Talk to your bank about diverting the bulk of your money into an account that cannot be accessed by ATM cards and lower the daily withdrawal limit. Tell family and friends not to lend you any money for gambling in the future no matter how you ask for it.
- Think about your reasons for gambling - Is it for fun and recreation, time out, interest, to escape from problems, to try and solve financial issues or other reasons?
- Start a gambling diary - A gambling diary helps you to keep a tally on how often you go gambling and how much you lose. A diary can help develop self-awareness and help you to understand the causes of gambling and what triggers initiate urges to gamble.
- Tell others about your decision - Tell trusted others about your decision to cut down. Tell people where you are going, how long you will be and what you are doing.
- Don't gamble when you have urgent debts and never borrow money to gamble - Financial pressures can lead you into an irrational and desperate desire to spend more in the hope of alleviating the debt.
- Don't gamble when you are experiencing emotional stresses -These stresses can also drive you to spend larger amounts than you planned in order to escape these feelings. Be aware of feelings or situations which place you at risk of problem gambling.
- Learn about your chosen gambling activity - What are the odds of winning? (Read more here) What is the method of payment? E.g. poker machines give free spins in lieu of cash rewards. How often have you cashed in your free spins?
- Make gambling only one of a range of activities and interests - You could try exercising, start a hobby or learn a new skill.
When you are at the venue
It is also important to consider your actions when you are at the venue. Most gamblers say that it is difficult to walk away once they are there, so it may be helpful to think about what may happen once you are there.
Once you are there:
- Do not chase your losses - Have a break and accept that the money spent is gone and if you are thinking this way it’s time to stop.
- If gambling stops being fun and is no longer is a game - This is a warning sign to get help quickly.
- Set limits and stick to a budget - Decide how much money you want to spend (can risk losing) on your gambling each week. Think of this money as purely entertainment money, not as an investment to win. Whatever you choose to spend, make sure that you only spend that amount. If you do get a payout, do not add that to your initial stake. Instead, place and seal that money away in a separate pocket or hand it over to a trusted friend. This helps you guard against impulsive decisions to try and use this to win more.
- Set yourself time limits and allow time for breaks - Keep an eye on the clock, take a break from time-to-time and do not gamble over the time you have set for yourself. Listen out for that alarm you set yourself earlier.
- Don't gamble alone - Try to only gamble socially. Place the importance on the socialising with friends, not the gambling.
- Try not to gamble with friends who gamble heavily.
- Don't mix alcohol or any other drugs with gambling - Three standard drinks will prejudice your judgement and may lead to impulsive gambling.
- Be realistic and aware - The venues have the rules stacked in their favour. Never gamble with the expectation that you will win and always check your thoughts to be aware of any 'magical thinking' like 'my horoscope says today is my lucky day'.
Keep in mind that once the urge to gamble becomes too strong, money often loses value and it can be difficult to follow your own strategies. Support is important at these times; it might be a good idea to connect with a Counsellor.
Why not check out our forum and see how others have managed at these times?