Explore the issue of problem gambling in Singapore, examining its impact on individuals and society. Learn about the measures and support systems in place to help those affected and promote responsible gaming practices.

The Guilt and Shame of Problem Gambling in Singapore

Gambling is a common recreational activity in Singapore. But for some, it progresses into a compulsive behavior that leads to significant problems in their lives. This can cause deep feelings of guilt and shame.

But do most gamblers actually feel guilty about their betting and its consequences? Or does the addiction override these emotions? Here is an in-depth look at guilt and shame in moderate risk and problem gambling.

Guilt in Moderate Risk Gambling

Many people gamble casually without negative effects by doing so responsibly. This includes only gambling with a predetermined affordable budget for entertainment, not as a source of income. Moderate risk gamblers are able to stop when losing and don’t chase losses.

For these gamblers, some guilt may be felt about money lost. But this is typically short-lived. Their controlled gambling doesn’t compromise work, relationships, finances, or mental health. The entertainment value outweighs occasional small losses.

So moderate risk gamblers may feel minor guilt about losing bets. But this dissipates quickly and doesn’t impact their overall lives. They gamble for fun within limits.

Guilt and Shame in Problem Gambling

In contrast, problem gamblers exhibit uncontrolled, compulsive behavior despite harmful consequences. This includes signs like:

  • Neglecting responsibilities to gamble
  • Lying to conceal gambling
  • Gambling more money to chase losses
  • Trying but being unable to cut back or quit
  • Feeling restless or irritable when not gambling

For problem gamblers, frequent substantial losses often create shame and guilt tied directly to their betting:

  • Guilt about money wasted gambling that should go to family needs
  • Shame about lying to spouses and loved ones to fund gambling
  • Guilt when gambling causes missing work or poor performance
  • Shame about being unable to control the compulsion to gamble

These feelings can become overpowering. Problem gamblers may feel deep remorse seeing how their actions hurt loved ones. But the addiction’s hold can make it very difficult to stop the destructive behavior they feel ashamed about.

This creates a vicious cycle – the gambling causes guilt which leads to more gambling to cope with that guilt. Over time guilt gives way to shame and despair.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

According to the American Psychiatric Association, signs of gambling disorder or addiction include:

  • Needing to gamble with more and more money to get the desired level of excitement
  • Being restless or irritable when trying to cut back on gambling
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to control or stop gambling
  • Preoccupation with gambling causing neglect of work, relationships, health needs
  • Gambling when feeling distressed
  • Chasing losses with more gambling
  • Lying to conceal gambling involvement
  • Jeopardizing relationships or career due to gambling
  • Relying on others for money to relieve financial problems caused by gambling

People with 4 or more of these symptoms have problem gambling requiring treatment. The inability to control gambling despite adverse effects is central in diagnosing the disorder.

Overcoming Gambling Addiction and Guilt

For problem gamblers, professional treatment is often needed to break free of compulsive behavior and manage feelings like guilt and shame. Key elements include:

  • Counseling for the gambler and family to identify triggers, develop coping skills, rebuild trust and finances.
  • Self-exclusion from casinos and betting sites, canceling credit cards to prevent access to gambling.
  • Support groups like Gamblers Anonymous to share struggles and strategies.
  • Treatment for underlying conditions like depression or anxiety that may contribute to problem gambling.
  • Medication such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers in some cases.
  • Ongoing maintenance and commitment to recovery to prevent relapses.

With treatment, problem gamblers can overcome gambling disorder and manage the guilt/shame. Responsible gambling or abstinence in recovery are the two main paths.

Healthy Coping Strategies for Gambling Guilt

Whether working to overcome problem gambling or experiencing some guilt about recreational bets, positive coping strategies include:

  • Focus on the present. Don’t obsess over past losses but make better choices now.
  • Speak with trusted friends or a counselor to process feelings in a healthy way.
  • Channel energy into meaningful activities like work, exercise, hobbies.
  • Volunteer to help others as a constructive distraction.
  • Develop a budget plan and savings goals to learn responsible money management.
  • Consider setting money aside each month to reflect on impact rather than gambling it.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing when cravings or guilt arise.
  • Use losses as motivation to make needed lifestyle changes.

For problem gambling, professional treatment combined with healthy coping strategies can help overcome compulsive behaviors and emotions like guilt and shame.

Counseling provides vital support to build a life of responsible gambling or abstinence.

Final Thoughts

With commitment and a strong support system, it is possible to escape problem gambling, manage feelings of guilt in a positive manner, and reclaim happiness.

Gambling Problem Help

While gambling is meant to be enjoyable, it can become a serious issue for some individuals. If you’re experiencing difficulties related to gambling, seek help from:

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Hao Cheng Cheng is a renowned authority in the online gambling industry, with over a decade of hands-on experience. Holding a Master's in Cryptographic Engineering from Singapore Institute of Technology, he spent years working at Marina Bay Sands, igniting his passion for the intricacies of casino operations and regulations.
For the past 11 years, Hao has dedicated himself to becoming a leading voice in Singapore's online gambling space. His incisive analysis and meticulous research have earned recognition from the Singapore Casino Association, where he serves as an advisory board member.
In addition to his work on BetCasinoSG, John has also contributed articles to the Gambling Insider, The Washington Post, and Business Insider.
Explore Hao's expertise through his professional portfolio (haoche.ng) and connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest industry commentary from this respected thought leader.

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