Regaining Control

Tools for cutting down

Has gambling just gotten a bit out of hand? Find out how you can cut down on gambling and keep it under control.

Keeping it fun

Gambling can be fun but it is important to remember that gambling is based on the concept of risk and has the very real potential to have a negative impact on your wellbeing. 

For some people who develop a habit of gambling to deal with the problems in their life, it can develop into a full-blown problem with potentially disastrous consequences. 

The more you gamble, the greater the risk of a problem developing.

Low risk gambling

Low-risk gambling is a method of betting or playing which lowers the risk of losing control of your gambling behaviour.  The key here is to understand your motives for gambling, to realise it is only a game played for recreation. 

Low-risk gamblers play with what they can afford to lose and do not think about gambling after the fact.  If you are a low-risk gambler it is important to be aware of the warning signs of a problem developing.  Gambling is not a way to earn extra money - it is just another form of entertainment.


Planning to gamble

If your goal is cutting down there are two areas where planning is important to 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. As gambling tends to be driven by impulse, planning is helpful. Before going decide:
  • how long you will spend gambling; and
  • how much money you will spend gambling;

It is important to consider your actions before you gamble and at the venue while gambling if you are to stay in control.

Most gamblers say that it is difficult to walk away when in the venue. No-one knows the best time to pull out of a losing machine and often don't leave when they do have a win. Planning for the time when gambling is also important in sticking to your goals.


Before you go gambling

  • Allocate an amount of money to spend as recreation -Only gamble with the allotted amount for recreation, walk away when you have spent your money.
  • Be clear and truthful to yourself 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?
  • Keep 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.
  • Set a limit on time and money.
  • 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 what feeling or situations place you at risk of problem gambling.
  • Learn about your chosen gambling activity -What are the odds of winning?  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 part of a range of activities you use for interest or recreation.


When you are at the venue

If cutting down is your goal, telling someone else of your plans can make your decision stronger. Tell one of our counsellors your plan before you next go to a venue.

  • If gambling stops being fun and no longer is a game- This is a warning sign to get help quickly.
  • Limit access to your cash and credit -Don't take your ATM and credit card to the venue.  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.
  • Do not chase your losses -Accept that money spent is gone.
  • 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.
  •   Don't gamble alone -Try to only gamble socially. Place the importance on the socialising with friends, not the gambling.
  • Don't gamble with friends that 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'.