You might think your sports betting methods are safe, but some wagering patterns make addiction likelier than you’d expect. The causes of betting addiction can be extremely diverse, ranging from innate addictive tendencies, coping mechanisms and a thrill-seeking mentality to social status and other cultural factors. This form of addiction shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it can have devastating consequences.
Based on extensive dialogue with hundreds of sports bettors, we’ve extracted 5 toxic sports betting habits you need to break free from. Take a moment to assess your behaviour and learn the art of gambling responsibly.
1. Non-stop betting
By the time your coffee is ready, you’ve already got an active bet on whatever match is played at that time. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter, because you know the day will give you enough opportunities to recover a lost bet. After all, Manchester United is playing Norwich tonight. That’s got to be a lucrative match.
Maybe you’re right about United, but your decision to place a bet first thing in the morning is flawed fundamentally. It sets into motion a domino of wagers. Betting all day cannot but lead to addiction since your brain’s reward system is basically fried on artificially induced dopamine.
Constantly checking the bookie’s site or app for opportunities doesn’t make you a pro but only fosters your addictive tendencies. Through repeated activation of your brain’s pleasure centers, you end up with a constant urge to bet.
Watch out, and don’t fall into the trap of infinite opportunities. Plan your bets diligently, both if you play for profit or entertainment.
2. Failing to cash out
Addiction can distort a gambler’s reality to such a degree that they might be largely unimpressed by a significant win. We’ve heard countless stories of punters having an excellent streak, scoring a decent profit, only to let it all go down the drain, failing to stop when they’re ahead.
Playing one’s profits until they go in the red is common among addicted gamblers. For them, it’s not anymore about winning or losing, as the urge to gamble has become too strong. Indeed, researchers point out that our brains produce feel-good chemicals even when we’re losing. The uncertainty and risk provide the thrill.
But remember, an addict’s brain gets hardwired to crave more risk than the average punter. That’s why you should adopt a realistic stance on each bet. Have you won a considerable amount, by any standard? Then it’s time to cash out. Don’t feed off illusions that you’ll multiply that sum even further. You may lose all your earnings, and regret will kick in.
Next thing you know, you’re chasing your losses with other reckless bets, and that’s a proven recipe for financial disaster. This will make betting lose all its charm, turning it into a cyclical nightmare of chasing your losses until you lose more than you’ve initially won.
3. Betting other people’s money
Things start to get serious when you bet money you can’t afford. Suppose you’ve ever borrowed money or forfeited your financial obligations to fulfill your betting desires. In that case, it might be time to seek help.
At this stage, your gambling cravings may have got to a point where your actions defy logic. However, you can tackle them at the source with a few therapy sessions. Or, if you feel therapy is not enough, you may opt for a specialized rehab center. Still, be aware that treatment solutions won’t work if you don’t admit you have a problem in the first place.
We’ve seen many cases of bettors who circumvent paying their rent or utilities to have a wager. They may even try to hide it, but the nasty truth has to come out when losses amount.
If you find yourself in this description, maybe you should limit the time and money spent with the bookies. Hang out with your family instead. Fill your time with other hobbies.
4. Playing when you feel down
Mood and attitude will influence your betting decisions in a myriad of ways. If sports betting is part of your cheer-up routine when feeling distressed, that’s a red flag. You should never gamble when you’re in a poor mental state because your emotionally driven decisions may result in lost bet slips and more frustration.
Lose a wager now, and your brain may still reward you with some dopamine juice. But lose 5 or 10 bets in a row, and you’ll soon become more depressed than you were before. It’s a chain reaction that you cannot avoid if you’re in a wrong frame of mind.
Try not to make a coping mechanism out of sports betting. It’s not only useless, but it may have severe financial and psychological consequences. Address your negative feelings in other ways by sharing them with a friend. Take a walk—exercise for a few minutes.
Next time you feel down and consider betting as an option to lighten your mood, just quit it:
- Take some deep breaths and count to 10
- Ask yourself if it’s a good idea to place the bet
- Breathe and count once more
Repeat this exercise until your urge to gamble subsides.
5. Mistaking skill for chance
Football punters are especially prone to this final item of our toxic betting habits list. We know how immersive a game can be, especially when the score goes your way. Still, you shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking it is purely your skill that wins the bet.
Compared to casino tables and slots, sports betting is indeed a skill-based form of gambling. However, you’re not the one scoring goals on the pitch, aren’t you? You may judge a game correctly and predict the winner or number of purposes. Maybe you employ a data-driven strategy simultaneously, so you rely on some skill. Still, the element of chance should not be disregarded. If you do, it’s called gambling distortion, and it makes you more prone to addiction.
You’ll understand the concept of gambling distortion better if we address ‘near misses.’ Near misses are bets just narrowly lost, for instance a long-odds parlay that missed a single goal to be a winner, or a 95th minute goal that turns your favourite’s victory into a draw. Although you’re losing, your brain interprets narrow losses like a win, at least in terms of dopamine.
You may think your skill is getting better. It may seem like you only need some practice to get back even. That’s the illusion of gambling distortion. So, be honest with yourself and don’t forget that betting on possible outcomes may not go your way, no matter your skills or study.
Prevent sports betting addiction by going straight to the heart of the matter if you tackle these toxic habits before they get too deeply ingrained.