It’s not news to say that gambling can become an addiction. It may be more insightful is to say that even if something isn’t a full-blown compulsion at the time, there can still be some indications that it’s time to take it easy.
I’m not trying to be the fun police nor a moralist. In most cases, and for most people, it’s perfectly fine.
With that being said, sometimes the best thing for your bankroll (and maybe even your bank account). In this article, I’ll lay out 6 signs you should give sports betting a break – even if it’s just for a little while.
1 – It’s Impacting Your “Real” Life
Gambling is supposed to be fun. When it stops being an entertaining complement to watching sports and starts becoming a serious part of your daily life, there’s cause for concern.
Your daily routine shouldn’t be changed because of real money betting. Whether or not you win that Monday night football game can’t be what determines what your budget is for necessities during the week. If the results of the games you’re betting on start affecting anything outside of your bankroll, take a step back and look at the big picture.
Nobody ever slips into a bad place on purpose. Actually, most never even realize it can be possible until it’s too late to climb out of the hole they’ve dug, or too difficult to want to try. The best way to avoid being faced with truly hard decisions is to never let it get there in the first place.
The first time you catch yourself making a certain life decision and you’ve factored in how gambling fits into the equation, you’re getting dangerously close to crossing the line. When it starts becoming anything other than something you “do for fun,” it might be time to lay off all games for the next few weeks in order to reset.
2 – You Start Hiding It
One of the best parts about sports betting is the camaraderie of the gambling community. Yes, I understand it can get annoying when you’re not a gambler and are constantly surrounded by people telling you their picks (hell, even if you are a gambler this can get annoying). But for those who are really into it, it’s all part of the experience.
I have no doubt that if you’re a regular sports bettor, you’ve cheered a game on TV extra hard just so people know you’ve got some action riding on the outcome. If you ever get to the point where you start feeling embarrassed about doing that, it should be a wakeup call.
The type of feeling I’m referring to is probably more common with drug and alcohol users, but one of the funny things about addiction (funny not the right word? I disagree) is that there are striking similarities in the experiences of people across ages, vices, socioeconomic status, etc. Suffice it to say the degenerate gambler struggling to pay rent on his budget studio apartment totally understands the mindset of the rich alcoholic living in a massive beach house.
One of the first signs that whatever you’re doing is a problem is that you start hiding it. You pour that beer into a thermos so nobody knows what you’re drinking, or in this case, you bet on the game but don’t watch it around your family – lest they see you’re gambling again.
People don’t just get concerned for no reason. You might think you have everything under control, but when you’re dealing with a compulsive behavior, it’s hard for you to recognize the problem firsthand.
The bottom line is that when gambling becomes something you need to keep away from friends and family, it’s on the verge of becoming a real problem.
3 – You Just Keep Losing
Allow me to lighten things up a little bit.
Every sports bettor in history (which is a big number, considering it’s been around for thousands of years) has gone through stretches when it just seems impossible to win. Maybe you’re not hurting financially, but it sure is frustrating nonetheless.
Gamblers, for the most part, handle losing in one of two ways: they double down and look to make their money back, or they walk away before it gets any worse. The former works some of the time, but the latter works every time.
You can chalk it up to bad luck, bad intel, a bad bounce, or whatever excuse you have for going 2-9 on a college football Saturday, but the end result is the same – it’s just not working out at that time.
Remember that watching sports was fun before you started betting on games, and it can still be enjoyable without having any skin in the game. I know it’s not as exciting, but it’s quite frankly healthier than always having that tense feeling that naturally gets intertwined with every game you bet on.
If you’re in the middle of a bad losing streak, take a step back for a week or two. I promise the games aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
4 – You’ve Fallen Behind on Payments
When I say this, I’m referring to any type of required bill like water, electric, rent, credit cards and I’d even throw necessities like groceries in there as well. Unlike the previous section where I argue that losing streaks should prompt you to consider taking a break, this one i non-negotiable.
You should never have to sacrifice the regular expenses of life in order to save money for gambling. I understand the justification – I lost a huge amount of money gambling, so the best way to fix my situation is win a huge amount of money gambling – but it almost never turns out that way.
If you’re choosing between paying your bookie, your credit card company, or your electric bill, there shouldn’t even be a question in your mind as to what needs to happen next. Don’t just think of it in terms of financial stability, look at it on a bigger scale. Gambling doesn’t just have the potential to drain your finances, it can also impact your emotions and mental state as well. If you remove it from the equation, things might get better quicker than they would otherwise.
5 – You’re Betting Just to Bet
Here’s another one that everyone who gambles on sports is probably familiar with, either on a personal level or with a friend. When bets stop being about the games and start becoming just about the bet, it’s problematic.
In a perfect world, you should be making your betting picks based on your knowledge of the game. In my opinion, half the fun is putting your skills to the test. If the only reason you’re betting on something is because you have an itch to throw some action on something, anything – that’s a red flag that should not go ignored.
I don’t care how good of a gambler you are, when you’re betting on the outcome of a cricket match and you don’t even know how the scoring works, that’s not good. I’ll go a step further and say that if you have no real knowledge of the teams involved in a game regardless of the sport, you simply should not be betting on it.
6 – You Think You Can Stop at Any Time, But Never Do
This is another behavior that shows up in addicts of all types. You always think that you can step away from the drinking, substance, gambling, etc., but for some reason, it just never happens.
If someone close to you has said something to the effect of, “You need to slow down/stop,” they’re probably not wrong. Nobody who cares about you wants you to stop doing something you enjoy unless it’s starting to be a problem.
You might believe that you can stop whenever you want. If that’s really the case, then do it. A week or two away from gambling will help you reset. Not to mention, don’t you want to prove to yourself and those around you that you really can stop?
As someone who truly appreciates sports betting and all the fun it’s brought to me and my friends over the years, I hate to see it turn into a problem for some people.
Most bettors are friends with other bettors. Keep an eye on each other and you’ll avoid the pitfalls that can be associated with the highs and lows of gambling on sports.
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