Humans have been actively engaging in gambling as a hobby from way before written history. However, with the advent of technology putting digital devices in the hands of everyone, online gambling has become more entrenched in our culture and now plays a deeper role in our society. Online gambling is the simple act of playing games of chance or skill on the internet with the hopes of winning money.
There are different kinds of online casino titles, ranging from complex table games like online rulett and poker to random games like slot machines. As the industry is an ever-expanding one, new games and game categories are continuously being added. Online gambling is available to everyone over 18 (or 21 in some states) with a stable internet connection. In this article, we take a look at the impact of online gambling on the way we interact and behave in our various interpersonal relationships.
Online Gambling and Social Relationships
There are several ways you can enjoy online gambling without having it put a strain on your social relationships. You can mindfully enjoy games like online roulette by setting a time and budget limit before you start playing and sticking to them. This helps you prevent spending too much time and money online. When online gambling is not approached with this level of caution and planning, however, things can go downhill fast and lead to several problems down the line. Some of these problems are analyzed below.
Isolation and problem gambling share a unique connection that causes one to feed into the other and vice versa. Lonely people are more likely to take larger risks and chase losses, which can lead to problem gambling. On the other hand, compulsive gamblers are also known to isolate themselves from friends and loved ones as they begin to spend most of their free time gambling online.
If left unaddressed, problem gambling can damage existing relationships, causing the gambler to sink further into isolation. It is good practice to resist the urge to keep your gambling hobby a secret. You should also be deliberate about setting aside time to strengthen bonds with your loved ones.
When done responsibly, online gambling does not pose a great risk to the family unit. But when a gambler starts spending more money than they should or spends long hours gambling online, it can cause a real strain on the family. Depending on how bad the gambling addiction gets, problem gambling can cause:
- Financial instability;
- Loss of trust, as some problem gamblers tend to lie to cover up their pitfalls;
- Emotional pain and insecurity;
- Divorce/dissolution of the family.
Luckily, the adverse effects of gambling in the family can be mitigated by going through treatment options such as therapy and counseling and taking a break from gambling.
Friendships and Romantic Relationships
People developing a gambling problem often stop spending time with their old friends and make new friends who are just as interested in gambling as they are. This can lead to the loss of important friendships in exchange for friends who tend to enable the problem gambler, worsening the addiction.
Problem gambling can also cause a strain on romantic relationships due to how capital-intensive and time-consuming it is. Research has shown that problem gambling can have serious negative effects on romantic partners’ emotional, physical, and mental health.
Online Gambling and Social Behavior
In general, there aren’t any significant behavioral traits associated with gambling that isn’t seen in the general population. However, when casual or social gambling crosses into the realm of problem gambling, it can bring with it some changes in social behavior that may not have been witnessed before. Some examples of these are:
Of course, the act of gambling online itself is an expression of heightened risk-taking behavior. But studies show that obsessive gamblers are greater risk takers on average than casual gamblers. Other studies have also shown that increased exposure to gambling can directly lead to an increase in risk-taking behavior.
According to various online resources, men who are addicted to gambling are more likely to be violent than their non-addicted counterparts. Although it is not clear how online gambling can lead to violent behavior and aggression, the correlation between the two is strong enough to be significant.
As fun and lighthearted as online gambling can be, it can also turn insidious if responsible gambling measures are not put in place. It is crucial to prioritize responsible gambling practices like time-outs, bankroll management, gambling only with money you can afford to lose, not chasing losses, and self-exclusion when necessary. Actively implementing these practices is truly the best way to avoid the devastating impact that problem gambling can have on social relationships and social behavior.