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We are familiar with problem gambling and pathological gambling designations. But a new term has arisen
-“Gambling Disorder". How the designations differ from each other?
The two designations, namely problem gambling and pathological gambling are mentioned in the 4th edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association. However, the 5th edition, published in 2013, removes these designations; it is now classified as Gambling Disorder, which may present three levels of severity: mild, moderate and severe. In recent years, Macau SAR Gambling Addiction treatment institutions started using the new assessment tools to identify the gambling disorder level of individuals seeking help.
If you have to participate in gambling activities, please remember:
Casinos always have the advantageous side.
Consider gambling as a game to play with money and not a way of making money.
Never use your/family expenses to gamble.
Set a money limit for gambling and follow it strictly.
Set a time limit and adhere to it strictly.
Never draw money with an ATM card or credit card to gamble. If possible, leave your ATM and credit card at home.
Never borrow money to gamble (even if you win, you may not have enough to pay the interest)
What can gambler/family member(s) do if once found out that he/she or their family member(s) has become
addicted to gambling or has a huge amount of debt caused by gambling?
For a gambler:
Stop gambling immediately to avoid the increase of debt.
Ask somebody you can trust to help you to manage your finances, including keeping your savings bankbook, ATM card and credit card(s).
Limit the amount of cash flow. For instance, set the cash limit that you need to spend weekly and have your bank account changed to a joint-account with someone you can trust.
A gambler who has debt should never try to recover it by gambling. He/she should plan the loan reimbursement immediately as this will not only release the financial pressure but also help to increase the determination of quitting gambling.
For family member(s):
Protect your personnel cash flow and assets.
Avoid giving too much money to a gambler, even for shopping, payments or loan refunds. Such matters should be taken in charge by family member(s).
Make a daily income and expenses record for the gambler and the whole family.
What are the main difficulties faced by individuals affected by the disturbances caused by gambling addiction?
The major problems encountered by these individuals are: emotional problems (anxiety, depression, and anger), poor family relationships, unwillingness to work or to study, strained interpersonal relationships, as well as problems / conflicts arising from debts, among others.
A gambler will always say: "I will stop gambling if I win back the money lost". Can a family member trust this?
Even though they do not intend to cheat, this really indicate they do not want to give up gambling. As long as they have the motivation to win this unbeatable game, they will keep on gambling.
I do not know how to tell to my family that I lost money.
We understand that you do not want to make your family worried, or do not know how to face them. How hard it may be, you should tell your family the truth frankly, because the reality will be revealed eventually and your family will definitely be aware of it. Therefore, the sooner they know the truth, the better the relationship will be. Otherwise, when they discover it by themselves, the result will be worse.
How does the Problem Gambling Prevention and Treatment Division provide help to individuals affected by gambling
The intervention of this Division’s social workers varies according to the state of the client. If the individual is thinking about quitting gambling, the social worker will help him to find ways and motivation to stop the addiction and encourage him to have a different way of life. If the individual has already taken the decision to stop gambling, the social worker will encourage and help him to set a reasonable and achievable goal. Support will be provided to consolidate the debts, avoid the tendency to bet, deal with the emotions and pressure, improve family relationships, rebuild healthy lifestyles and prevent gambling relapse.
I want to have counselling, but is it possible not to let others know?
All cases are treated confidentially either by phone or in person.
My family/friend(s) has/have gambling problem and ask me for money. What can I do?
First of all, the gambler should not be blamed or scorned directly, because this will only make them try to escape. Try to understand their gambling problems and financial state, encourage them to undergo counselling, and give them emotional support during the recovery process. But we do not suggest repaying the loan for them. You should pass back this responsibility to them and allow the counselor to help them to adjust their financing in such a way as to allow the gambler to learn to face his own problems.
If we do not help family member/friend(s) to repay the loan, and the burden of the interest is huge, what can I do?
Helping him/her to repay does not mean his/her debt will be decreased and this means encouraging him/her to be irresponsible of his/her act. This can then become a signal to gamble increasingly and, consequently, the gambler will lose more and more, have more debts, higher interest and, in the end, the situation will reach a level that you cannot bear with the result that the situation will be more severe than the first time before you repaid the debt for him/her. In addition, you should keep a certain amount of cash for yourself, in case you have money to use when a sudden thing occurs. Not to repay the money for him/her does not mean you abandon him/her. The true way to cherish someone is to encourage him/her to take the counselling and to help him/her to face and solve problems in a responsible way.
Apart from psychological counselling, will the Centre provide any financial support?
We focus on helping the person concerned to handle their gambling problems, therefore, we will not provide any financial support. However, if the case has a financial problem in everyday life and is not related to a loan caused by gambling, we will consider referring him/her to one of the five social work centers.
It is only my concern when I lose money gambling and this has nothing to do with others?
Gambling is not only a personal problem. In fact, gambling behaviour affects people around us and causes serious financial problems to the family. The family will worry about the health and security of the gambler, the creditor will come to the house asking for money, this will place huge pressure on the family. In addition, gambling will gives a bad example to people around us.
Is there any relationship between the degree of gambling addiction and the modes of gambling?
There is no direct connection between the degree of addiction and the modes of gambling, as any kind of gambling can cause people to become addicted. However, the amount of the bet is related to mode of gambling. For instance, with majohng, few people will lose eighty to one hundred thousand dollars per game, but the stakes for Baccarat or betting on horse racing betting is rather big. It is possible to lose eighty to one hundred thousand in a few hours or even in one game.
If my family member(s) does/do not admit has/have gambling problems, what should I do?
If he/she still denies having gambling problems or is still gambling, this means that probably he/she does not want to change this habit. The family should seek for help, learn how to protect themselves. Take action to protect yourself and the family. Before the gambler is willing to make any changes, you should at least apply the following steps to protect yourself:
If you have a joint account credit card, ask to cancel one of the holders.
If you have a joint account, ask to cancel one of holders. If you do not want to let him/her know your financial state or ask you for money, try to have the bank statement posted to someone you trust.
Change the codes of credit cards and other information.
Open a safe to put your valuable belongings in.
Let others who lent him/her money (family members and friends) know about his/her gambling problem so that they can refuse to lend him/her money again.
Apart from money, the family will bear huge emotional pressures (including shock, betrayal, guilt, anger, worry and distrust). We suggest you to seek help from related organizations. In addition, social workers will provide substantial guidelines to handle crises and problems, and through communication, may improve the relationship between the gambler and his/her family so as to increase his/her motivation to seek help.