Beware of Bingo Addiction

By Ben Hamill - November 17 2015

Bingo Addiction

I read about a woman who killed her uncle in order to steal £300 from him. This is a terrible tragedy and leads to a subject that I haven't touched upon yet.

Bingo addiction is a form of gambling addiction. About 5% of North Americans have some form of gambling addiction. We think that, if we're playing a "harmless" children's game, we cannot possibly become addicted to it. Every reputable online casino has a section on responsible gambling because they know that online gambling can lead to an addiction. But legal gambling is simply too prevalent in our fast-paced modern societies. Casinos are far from the only problem; governments profit from gambling addiction as much as casinos do.

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The Limitations of Setting Limits

Most sites will let players set gambling limits for themselves. If they try to exceed their preset limit, they are automatically frozen out. This is good in itself but it doesn't come anywhere close to solving the problem. First, players may set an excessively high gambling limit for themselves. So, they have already gambled too much when they reach their set limit. Two, gamers can belong to many casinos. Thus, even if they set reasonable limits to themselves at each casino, the aggregate amount they can gamble before they get locked out completely is still dangerously high.

Gambling Can Lead to Addiction Anywhere

Online gambling is fast and easy and can lead to gambling problems but gambling at land-based casinos can also lead to gambling addiction. Every so often we hear about someone who lost everything at land-based casinos. Gamblers Anonymous doesn't exist because the problem is not real. The problem is very real, indeed.

Bingo is Different

Two points to be made here: One, it is very important to note that as far as bingo is concerned, online addiction is far more prevalent that land-based addiction. At land-based casinos, the gambling addiction usually shows up in the slots bank or at table games such as blackjack, roulette, or craps. If you bet far more than you can afford to lose at a hand of blackjack, the solution may simply be to play at a table with a lower minimum. Whereas bingo at land-based casinos is simply not a big draw, online bingo is a big draw. It's so easy to get caught in a whirlpool of gambling, a whirlpool that the individual may not be able to stop.

Play Bingo for Good Causes

Point two: bingo addiction at bingo centres is rare. The advent of electronic bingo has exacerbated the problem but the classic setting in a bingo centre precludes the possibility of one developing an addiction to the game.

To emphasize this all-important point, when we leave our homes to participate in charitable bingo gaming, it is almost impossible for that activity to lead to a gambling addiction. The mood is far from the mood in a casino. The ambience and atmosphere are conducive to helping others, be they a local band or sports team or health clinic, rather than satisfying our own need to gamble. People who need to gamble in a pathological way have little patience for the slow moving nature of charitable bingo at a centre.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Here are a few indicators of a burgeoning gambling problem. If the problem is caught early it can be treated much more easily than if you seek help only after you've hit bottom.

  • Escape from real life. We all need to get away from it all; sometimes often. Go to a movie, a restaurant, a museum, a sporting event, a concert. These are all relatively safe escapes.
  • You can't stop. You know you should be able to stop but can't. Dieters are well aware of this syndrome.
  • You convince yourself that you'll quit as soon as you make back what you've lost. If you hear anything like this in your head, run quickly away from the casino. If you're home go outside immediately. Go for a long walk. Even if it's snowing.
  • If you call in sick to gamble, you have already crossed the threshold. The time to stop is now!
  • If gambling becomes an obsession or a dominant part of your life, you are close to being pathologically addicted.

A Sliding Scale of Dangerous Gambling

Of course, there are many symptoms of gambling addiction and bingo players can also develop an addiction. Online bingo presents the most risk because the atmosphere that inheres at a casino is not present online. You can just gamble away even whilst "just playing bingo". Casino bingo presents the next highest risk of developing an addiction. Land-based casinos always have some people who have gone from gambling as an entertainment to gambling as an end in itself.

For some, the game is roulette, for other rubber ducky, and for some it's bingo. Far fewer problem gamblers play bingo at bingo centres, a sound reason to play at a centre rather than playing online. Finally, we reach the ultimate in safe gambling: charitable bingo. It is inconceivable that someone would steal from anyone, especially a close family member or friend in order to get enough money to go down to the local bingo centre and play to help the amateur choir raise money to cover expenses!