Gambling addiction is becoming a growing concern in Uganda and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. With the rise of gambling availability, participation, and expenditure in the region, particularly among young people aged 10-24, there is a need for increased support and resources for those struggling with addiction. While the gambling industry may have positive economic impacts, it is important to address the negative consequences and provide help for those in need. Legal casinos currently operate in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, with South Africa having the most casinos on the continent.

Gambling addiction is a serious issue that can have negative impacts on a person's mental, physical, and financial well-being. It is classified as a biopsychosocial disorder, meaning that it is influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has recognized gambling addiction as a disorder, previously known as "pathological gambling" and now classified as "gambling disorder" alongside substance-related disorders. There is a high rate of comorbidity between gambling disorder and substance-related disorders, and they share similar neural circuitry, clinical presentation, and genetic predisposition. Treatment methods for these disorders also have similarities. If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction in Uganda, there are resources available to help.

Uganda lacks research on gambling behavior and addiction, especially among adolescents. This information gap is crucial for the development of effective prevention and treatment programs. While there is a growing literature on gambling addiction in Western countries, there is a need for a fresh perspective on the issue in Uganda. This article aims to fill this gap by exploring the prevalence of gambling addiction and identifying high-risk groups in the region.

Gambling Addiction in Uganda

What is Gambling Addiction?

A gambling addiction is an irrepressible desire to bet on anything you can wager on. To be frank, nothing is wrong with gambling. The problem arises when gamblers struggle with the impulse to gamble. This powerlessness to resist the urge to gamble even when winning is the definition of gambling addiction. The effects of gambling addiction have a high propensity to sneak into a gambler’s work life as well as their homes. The causes of gambling addiction have a direct correlation to the type of addiction to gambling they are experiencing. The list below describes the difference gambling addicts you can come across:

Pathological Problem Gambler

Problem gamblers are at the elementary level of players with gambling issues, typically not as harmful as other addiction. They have a tendency to deceive people about their where they are and have inconsistent behavioural patterns. For example, they will ignore curfew and return home in the wee hours of the next day and pretend that they had an emergency.

Binge Gambler

Binge gamblers generally bet on gambling games in spaced out interval that are indicative of periods of absolutely no involvement in gambling of any sort at one point in time. In other instances, when they start gambling again, they are helpless to stop it. Binge gamblers do not display signs of responsible gambling, they are just a likely to gamble their house away.

Compulsive Gambler

The worst of them all is a compulsive gambler. They are not deterred by the risk of using money that they do not have. Compulsive gamblers have the urge to gamble with no limitations, even when they’ve won, their desire remains insatiable.

Causes of Gambling Addiction

The motivation to gamble for many people differs from individual to individual. Some people start dabbling in gambling as a hobby and cannot stop once it has escalated to a problem. Most of the time, people will readily assume that the cause is related to a person’s failure to sustain a certain standard of living. It actually goes further than that. Some people are predisposed to have addictive personalities. This is based on their sex, age and even genetics.

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

In Uganda, gambling addiction is a serious problem. There are warning signs to watch out for, such as changes in behavior, financial troubles, and neglecting responsibilities. Seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms. Uganda has organizations and support groups that can provide assistance and guidance for those struggling with gambling addiction.

  • One sign of addiction is lying about gambling habits. Uganda has resources such as counseling services and support groups. Addressing the addiction quickly can prevent further harm.
  • Recognize the signs of addiction, such as spending too much time and money on gambling. Seek professional help and support from loved ones to overcome this addiction.
  • Borrowing money frequently or selling personal items to fund gambling activities is a sign of gambling addiction. Seek professional support and resources in Uganda to address this issue and prevent further financial harm. There are organizations and hotlines dedicated to providing assistance and guidance for those struggling with gambling addiction.
  • Recognize the signs of addiction in Uganda, such as spending money on gambling instead of necessities. Seek help from organizations and support groups to overcome addiction and regain control of your finances and life.
  • Approach a loved one in Uganda struggling with gambling addiction with empathy and understanding. Create a safe and non-judgmental space for them to open up. Encourage them to seek help from Uganda's resources such as support groups and counseling services.

In Uganda, be supportive of someone struggling with gambling addiction. Don't enable the addiction but assist them in finding financial counseling or other services. Participate in the treatment process and encourage the individual to seek professional help. Remember, gambling addiction is a serious issue that requires support and understanding.

How to Deal with Gambling Addiction

There are several avenues to seek help for gambling addiction in Uganda. The negative effects gambling addiction can only be detected by a professional that can prescribe long-term gambling recovery treatment to an addict. There are rehabilitation clinics for addiction to gambling around Uganda. Here’s a list of places you can visit to get assistance with your habit:

  • Cape Town Gambling Addiction Clinics
  • National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) toll-free gambling helpline 0800 006 008
  • GamCare Uganda contact details: WhatsApp/Text 0393-228819
  • [email protected]