Gambling addiction, although actually classified by the American Psychiatric Society as an impulse control problem rather than an addiction, is characterised by the urge to gamble in spite of negative consequences for both the individual affected and those around him or her.
Not all gamblers have a severe enough problem to call it an addiction with only some 2-3% of the population being considered ‘problem gamblers’ in studies carried out for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. And yet, an increasing number of gamers is finding it hard to sensibly limit the time and cash spent playing online. Quite obviously, then, a gambling addiction should be addressed as early as possible.
This can be one in a number of ways, including medication with an SSRI, counselling (particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and peer support methods such as Gamblers Anonymous. Research by the University of Missouri-Columbia has shown that self help can also be useful with about one third of pathological gamblers recovering using self help techniques.
Self help requires a lot of motivation and dedication from the gambler, as they work to control their impulses. Admitting that you have a gambling problem can give rise to feelings of shame or guilt, and it is important that you work through those feelings in order to progress. Keeping a journal of the healing journey is often valuable and records progress in a way that can be reviewed at a later date.
One important step in the self help process is to avoid situations which would have caused or facilitated gambling behaviour in the past. For many people this has to do with the availability of money or credit. Being able to use credit cards, raise loans or having cash around could all lead to an increase in the impulse to gamble – but how do you live in the modern world and avoid the need for credit?
Prepaid Credit Cards
Astoundingly, there is an easy solution at hand: A prepaid credit card offers an important and highly effective opportunity to restrict the amount spent on gambling. Prepaid credit cards give the card holder the opportunity to transfer an amount of money to their credit card account, and then use it at sites which accept credit cards only, as some gambling sites do. Using a prepaid credit card gives a person the opportunity to set their limit, and to stick with it. There is no risk of interest charges increasing debt, as there is no debt to begin with, and it can also preserve credit ratings. Some prepaid cards allow the user to track spending by text or email, enabling the gambler to either keep their transactions private or share with a buddy in a peer support relationship. Prepaid credit cards also offer additional security in the event of winning, since any winnings can be transferred onto the card to prevent carrying large amounts of cash. The amounts can then be withdrawn or transferred to a bank account at a later time.
There is no doubt that controlling problem gambling can be a huge issue. But thanks to prepaid cards, it is definitely no longer a hopeless case.
Author: Gavin Whittaker
Gavin Whittaker is a Liverpool-born finance journalist. Whitaker has written for many different print- and online-magazines on topics ranging from credit card encryption solutions to mobile banking – as well as dedicating his free time to completing his collection of fine Scottish whiskeys.