Responsible Gambling Tips to Cap off Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month is drawing to a close. It’s a great time to reflect on what brings us joy and reevaluate relationships with certain behaviors. Gambling and mental health are often talked about in the same circles, particularly concerning responsible play.

Chances are you’re familiar with the standard responsible gambling tips: Set limits and stick to them, take frequent breaks, and so on. The standards are always chock-full of good advice but don’t always address the larger issues at play.

I touched base with Daniel Umfleet, Founder and Chief Executive of Kindbridge, to discuss more specific advice for gamblers who want to keep their mental health in check.

Financial Literacy and Gambling Are Not the Same

The line between being good with money and being good at gambling could not be thicker. Umfleet explained that many betters—especially younger ones—think their financial acumen can make a difference in gambling.

“Some bettors seem to be approaching sports betting as a job, as a side hustle,” he said. “It’s problematic for many reasons.”

Umfleet emphasizes that the average American isn’t as financially literate as they might have you believe. It’s not a knock; it’s an unfortunate truth.

Financial education is not uniformly integrated into the school curriculum, leading to a population with diverse levels of financial acumen. Conversely, countries with collectivist cultures often prioritize financial education from an early age, ensuring that citizens are well-informed about managing their finances and understanding the risks associated with gambling.”

Umfleet’s advice, in short, is to keep learning about finances, saving, investing, and the whole shebang. Treat gambling as a separate entity entirely, and never weave it into your plans for wealth management. This advice pairs well with common tips such as setting limits and stopping if you lose your initial bankroll.

Understand How Our Culture Influences Gambling Habits

This “tip” is more of a “piece of life advice,” but that doesn’t make it any less helpful. Umfleet suggests a thought exercise: “Name two things typical Americans value more than sports and business.” Gambling, naturally, exists at the nexus of these two things we, as a society, value.

Further, we live in an individualistic culture that breeds competition.

“And when you compare it to collectivist cultures that think more on the broader spectrum of let’s take care of the base of people, the pool of people that we have, versus let’s take care of ourselves.”

Our general outlook—and we are indeed talking about generalities here; individuals can espouse their own values—makes us inherently competitive. Pair that competitive nature with individualism, and it can be toxic when applied to gambling.

“In the US, gambling is often viewed as a competitive endeavor and a potential pathway to financial success. This contrasts sharply with the more cautious and regulated approach in collectivist cultures, where gambling is more commonly viewed as a form of entertainment culturally and more aggressive attempts are made to control and minimize harm that most Americans would argue are too invasive and, in some cases, are the definition of Big Brother.”

It’s crucial to avoid the individualist and competitive components of gambling. Sure, it’s entertainment. But it can also be a social hobby. Place the same bets as your friends and revel in the wins or commiserate after losses. This can combat the cultural learnings that otherwise lead to irresponsible gambling.

More at GT: Legal Sports Betting States | Implied Probability Calculator

Mental Health Is a Priority

Let’s kick this section off with Umfleet’s straight-up advice:

“If you actively manage your mental health in a proactive way, you are less likely to have issues with compulsive disorders or compulsive activities. You have a lot less issues with unregulated anger, for example.”

In other words, taking a vested interest in your mental health can help curb behaviors that might otherwise lead to gambling issues. Here are Umfleet’s top tips.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Regular mindfulness helps individuals stay aware of their emotional state, preventing impulsive behaviors.
  • Stress Management: Engage in activities that reduce stress, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.
  • Mental Health Check-Ins: Regularly assess mental well-being and seek professional help if signs of stress or anxiety related to gambling appear.
  • Compulsive Behaviors: Acknowledge and recognize any existing compulsive behaviors. Individuals who have tendencies towards compulsive actions or have been diagnosed with compulsive disorders should avoid gambling altogether, as they are more susceptible to gambling addiction.
  • Medications and Dopamine: Be aware that certain medications can increase compulsive behavior or cause fluctuations in dopamine levels, making individuals more vulnerable to gambling harms. Medications such as dopamine agonists used for Parkinson’s disease, antipsychotics, and antidepressants can impact impulse control. Consult with a healthcare provider about these risks.
  • Adopting a Peak Performance Mindset: Fostering a peak performance mindset for life as a whole can help maintain focus on broader goals and well-being. This involves:
    • Setting Clear Goals: Define and regularly review personal and financial goals to stay motivated and focused.
    • Continuous Learning: Engage in lifelong learning and personal development to enhance skills and knowledge.
    • Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Prioritize physical health, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet to support mental clarity and resilience.

More on Responsible Gambling

For more tips and additional resources, head to Gaming Today’s Responsible Gaming Page. You can also visit KindBridge for more information on its programs and partnerships with major gambling providers.

About the Author
Cole Rush

Cole Rush

Writer and Contributor
Cole Rush is an industry writer and contributor at Gaming Today. He is a Chicago-based writer in the gambling and media spaces. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Rush also covers pop culture and books for Reactor Mag (formerly Tor.com) and TheQuillToLive.com, a sci-fi and fantasy book review site. He has more than eight years of experience writing about gambling and entertainment.

Get connected with us on Social Media