“We estimate that three per cent of South Africans can be classified as problem gamblers with 0, 5 per cent being classified as pathological gamblers,” says Sibongile Simelane-Quntana, executive director of SARGF.
Pathological gamblers have an impulse control disorder that leads them to gamble uncontrollably which leads to significant damage to themselves and others.
The foundation manages a 24-hour helpline that provides free counselling and psychological support for gamblers and their families should a gambling problem develop.
“During this time of year we are expecting an increase in the number of calls to our helpline as people have greater access to money from bonuses and thirteenth cheques being paid out and more spare time on their hands,” said Simelane-Quntana.
The foundation, through the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) has issued several warning signs that may indicate a person is developing a gambling problem.
- Having constant thoughts about and a preoccupation with gambling.
- Lying or concealing gambling activities from family and friends.
- Attempting to cover losses by further gambling.
- Taking extreme measures in order to get money with which to gamble.
- Preferring to gamble rather than attend other important events like a family get together.
- Feeling anxious or moody when not gambling.
- Racking up large debts due to gambling activities.
- Experiencing a deterioration in close relationships as a result of gambling.
- Neglecting personal needs like sleeping, hygiene and eating in favour of gambling.
- Manipulating people into lending or giving money to be used in gambling.
Like any addiction, the first step to receiving help and support is to admit to the problem. A gambling addiction is difficult to fight alone and support is readily available via the SARGF 24-hour, confidential and free helpline, or via email: [email protected]