Gambling is fun! Whether you’re gambling in a casino or online, it’s easy to see why gambling holds such an appeal for so many people. The drama of rolling dice or turning cards builds the thrill of the idea of winning or losing money – sometimes a lot of it – through a game of chance. But gambling has its dangers, too. It’s easy to get caught up in the game and not realize that you’re losing more money than you should be willing to sacrifice – and some gamblers find that the thrill of the game keeps them coming back day after day, until gambling is a far bigger part of their life than it should be. Gambling outside of casinos and legal websites can get you into legal hot water, and can sometimes even be dangerous. The key is to enjoy a safe and healthy relationship with gambling by always gambling responsibly.
When you head into the casino, it’s a good idea to expect to lose – because you probably will. After all, casinos aren’t full of beautiful fountains and luxurious environments because those places lose money. They’re making money, and it’s your money, and that’s okay. Gambling is fun, and the likelihood that you’ll lose is the price that you pay for enjoying a fun day or night at the casino.
The problem comes when you keep losing, keep playing, and keep losing some more. If you don’t set limits on how much you’re willing to spend, you’ll quickly find that you’ve overdrawn your checking account or spend money that you had meant to save for something else.
The best way to combat this is to set a loss limit at the get-go. Decide how much money you’re willing to lose before you walk away from the tables, and stick to it. Consider using some way of marking the limit: you could withdraw a set amount of cash and then vow not to go back to the ATM, or you could buy a certain number of chips and vow to not go back to the window until it’s time to cash out – and to never go back if you lose all your chips. You can even choose to leave your credit union or bank card in your hotel room in order to remove the temptation to withdraw more.
Beware of gambling addiction
It’s important to note that, for some people, the precautions above won’t be enough. Some gamblers will set limits and then break them; they’ll go back to the ATM when they swore they wouldn’t, and they’ll even head back to their hotel room to get that card back. Gamblers like this may find themselves gambling every chance they get – online, at local casinos, on work nights instead of just on vacation. For people like this, gambling is more than just a habit: it’s an addiction.
It’s possible to get addicted to gambling in the same way that you can be addicted to drugs or alcohol. And just like alcoholics should attend AA meetings, gambling addicts should seek professional help and peer support groups to help them kick the habit entirely. If you can’t gamble responsibly, then the responsible thing to do is to not gamble at all.
Gamble in the right places
When you’re gambling, make sure that you’re doing so in places that are completely legal. That means registered casinos in states that offer legalized gambling, and online gambling through legal sites from states that allow their citizens to gamble online. It’s important to stay on the right side of the law when gambling, because the law can also protect you – if you are defrauded by a fake online gambling site or are ripped off in a private poker game, you have precious little recourse through the law. Don’t break the law when gambling. Sports bookies at bars are not a good place to put your money. Things like NCAA bracket pools, while ubiquitous in offices around the country, are technically illegal (we can’t tell you it’s okay to gamble on the NCAA tournament, but we will tell you this: if you do choose to break the law, be careful how much money you put down, because there won’t be many legal options for getting it back if you’re conned).
The simple way to gamble safely is to travel to a legal casino or gamble online (after checking your state’s online gambling laws, of course). When it comes to everything else, beware! Even if you follow every other safety tip, even responsible gamblers are only truly responsible when they’re gambling legally.