Gamble for pleasure, not the pain

Siyabonga Africa

Siyabonga Africa

The National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) believes that gambling should be harmless entertainment and not an insidious addiction.

Dr Roger Meyer, medical director of the NRGP, says there are several signs about what constitutes being a compulsive gambler.

"The biggest difference between normal, responsible gamblers and compulsive ones is that compulsive gamblers tend to chase their losses when others would just brush them off and go home," said Meyer.

The American Psychiatric Association defines compulsive gambling as a progressive psychological disorder characterised by emotional dependency, lack of control and accompanying negative consequences in the gamblers' social and vocational life.

Meyer says the NRGP provides services for people who believe they are compulsive gamblers. People can check whether they are addicted to gambling by answering Gamblers Anonymous' 20 questions, or calling the NRGP's toll-free number for a free assessment.

"Some of the symptoms that are commonly exhibited by compulsive gamblers include a preoccupation with gambling, lying about their addiction, failing to stop gambling and using gambling to pay off debts," Meyer says.

The South African Responsible Gambling Trust, an organisation comprising gambling regulators and operators, provides oversight and funding for the NRGP.

Through this funding, the NRGP is able to offer the free assessments.