How To Avoid Addiction While Playing Online Slots

By Alex Smith, Last updated Apr 30, 2024

Gambling disorder, a mental health condition recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, affects around 1% of the population, according to certain studies. Problem gambling can include different forms of wagering like sports betting, gambling online, and playing at online casinos or playing online slots.

Problem gambling can lead to significant financial difficulties, making it challenging for individuals to pay bills and maintain a stable lifestyle. The time spent on gambling sites and the constant infatuation with gambling can strain relationships with family members and friends and family. To make matters worse, Gamblers Anonymous, a well-known support group, estimates that between just 3% and 11% of problem gamblers seek help for their gambling problem.

In today’s blog, we will focus primarily on one form of online gambling: slot machines. If your gambling behavior is changing, if you’re noticing serious consequences from playing the slots – or even find yourself stealing money, developing an alcohol addiction or substance use disorder, or just want to set up safeguards for the future – this blog is for you.

Understanding the Risks of Gambling Addiction 

Signs of Online Slot Addiction

To prevent online slot addiction, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and recognize the signs of problematic behavior. Some indications that online slot playing may be developing into an addiction include:

  1. Feeling a compulsive urge to play slots and difficulty stopping or cutting back
  2. Spending more time and money on slots than intended
  3. Neglecting other responsibilities and activities in favor of playing slots
  4. Lying to others about the amount of time or money spent on slots
  5. Needing to bet increasing amounts to get the same thrill
  6. Feeling irritable, anxious, or depressed when not playing slots
  7. Jeopardizing or losing meaningful relationships, jobs, or educational opportunities due to slots
  8. Relying on others to bail you out of financial troubles caused by excessive slot playing

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, it’s crucial to take action to get your slot playing under control before it spirals into a serious addiction. Problem gambling can result in severe harm to your mental health, relationships, career, and finances.

 It can lead to depression, anxiety, bankruptcy, legal issues, and even suicide in extreme cases. Understanding the potential consequences of addiction can motivate you to prioritize responsible gambling habits. Don’t forget: if you are displaying problematic gambling behavior, you can change. You can even stop gambling entirely if desired. You can, for example, block gambling sites and work with a therapist to decrease gambling urges.

Setting and Sticking to Responsible Gambling Limits

Establishing Time and Money Limits

One of the most effective ways to prevent online slot addiction is establishing strict limits for yourself and adhering to them. Before you start any session playing online slots, decide on reasonable time and money limits and do not exceed them no matter what.

Based on your income and expenses, determine an affordable amount to spend on slots—an amount you can comfortably lose without impacting your financial stability and obligations. Divide your slot bankroll into smaller session stakes so you’re not tempted to chase losses and blow through your entire budget too quickly.

Set a firm time limit for your slot sessions as well. Decide in advance how many minutes or hours you will allow yourself to play, and set an alarm if needed. Quit playing as soon as you reach your time limit, whether you are up or down. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing losses and playing longer than intended.

Using Responsible Gambling Tools

Many online casinos offer responsible gambling tools that allow you to set deposit, loss, and time limits on your account. Take advantage of these features to enforce the limits you have set for yourself. You can also self-exclude entirely if you feel it’s necessary.

It’s also wise to impose longer-term limits, such as weekly or monthly caps, on your slot spending and playing time. Keep a record to honestly track the time and money you spend on online slots. Regularly review whether your gambling habits are staying within healthy boundaries.

Never Play Slots with Money You Can’t Afford to Lose

A non-negotiable rule of responsible gambling is never to bet money you can’t afford to lose. The odds are stacked against you—slot machines are programmed to pay out less than they take in over the long run. So, statistically, you are more likely to end up losing than winning.

Always consider the money you spend on slots as the cost of entertainment, not as an investment or way to make money. Imagine that the money is already gone before you even place a bet. If you can’t comfortably do that, you are playing with money you can’t afford to lose.

Never gamble with money needed for essentials like bills, food, rent, or savings. Don’t take out loans or go into debt to play online slots. Don’t try to win back the money you have lost. If you find yourself tempted to break these rules, it’s a red flag that you need to step back from online slots for a while.

Avoid Using Slots to Cope with Emotional Issues

It’s all too easy to turn to online slot machines as an escape or coping mechanism when stressed, depressed, anxious, lonely, or bored. The excitement and distraction of slots may provide temporary relief, but they are not a healthy solution for emotional issues. Using gambling to self-medicate often makes psychological problems worse in the long run.

If you find yourself tempted to play online slots to respond to negative emotions, finding healthier ways to manage those feelings is essential. Develop alternative stress-relief techniques, such as:

  • Exercising
  • Meditating or practicing relaxation techniques
  • Spending time outdoors in nature
  • Expressing yourself through a creative hobby
  • Reading an engaging book
  • Socializing with friends and family
  • Practicing self-care activities you enjoy

If you are struggling with emotional issues, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a mental health professional. Constructively coping with difficult emotions is critical to preventing problematic slot playing.

The Importance of Taking Frequent Breaks

It’s easy to get caught up in online slots’ continuous action and fast pace. But playing for extended periods without breaks is a risk factor for addiction. The more you play continuously, the easier it is to lose track of time and money. Your judgment also becomes clouded, and you’re more likely to make impulsive bets.

Overcome this by taking frequent breaks when playing online slots. After a short session, step away from the game for a while before playing again. It is recommended that you take breaks at least hourly. Stretch, walk around, get fresh air, drink water, and clear your head before returning to the slots. This will help you keep your slot playing in check.

Also, balance slot playing with plenty of other enjoyable leisure activities. Don’t let gambling crowd out the other things you like to do. Maintain a varied schedule full of hobbies and interests beyond just online slots. This not only makes you less likely to become addicted but also leads to a more well-rounded, fulfilling life.

Avoiding Slots When Under the Influence

Avoid playing online slots whenever you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Being intoxicated impairs your judgment and lowers your inhibitions, making you more prone to taking unwise risks and playing recklessly. You’re likely to exceed limits, chase losses, and make bad decisions if you play slots while your faculties are compromised.

It’s best to restrict your slot playing to times when you are clear-headed and in control. If you do choose to consume alcohol while playing, set strict limits in advance on how many drinks you will have. Stick to those limits and stop playing if you exceed them. Never let anyone pressure you into gambling more than you planned just because you have had a few drinks.

Understanding How Slot Machines Work

Having a realistic understanding of how slot machines work can help you avoid unrealistic expectations and gambling fallacies that can lead to addiction. There are a few critical facts about slots to be aware of:

Slots Are Games of Pure Chance

The outcome of each spin is random and independent of previous spins. Slots are not due for a win after a streak of losses. There are no hot or cold machines. Strategies like changing games or betting amounts won’t improve your odds. The house always has a mathematical edge.

(The only exception to this rule is rare slots—usually found in British arcades—that are influenced by previous outcomes. These are rarely found in the online gambling world, however.)

The Role of Random Number Generators (RNGs)

The results of online slots are determined by computerized random number generators (RNGs). These RNGs are constantly generating strings of numbers, each corresponding to a specific outcome on the reels for each spin. 

The RNG determines the outcome when you hit the spin button before the reels start spinning. Nothing you do can influence the RNG. The spinning reels are just a visual representation of the predetermined outcome.

A common sign of gambling disorder is the (incorrect) belief that a slot is “due to pay.” Still, when you understand how random number generators work and how they’re integrated into video slots, you’ll soon understand this isn’t the case.

The House Edge

Another critical fact is that online slots have a built-in house edge. The payouts are programmed to provide a long-term profit to the casino. For example, if a slot machine has a 5% house edge, the casino expects to keep 5% of all money bet on that machine over the long run. So, for every $100 wagered, the casino projects paying out $95 in winnings and keeping $5 in profit. The house edge varies depending on the machine, but it always exists.

Individual players can still win in the short term, but it’s a mathematical certainty that the casino has the advantage overall. Understanding these realities about how slots work can help you keep a level head and not fall prey to incorrect mindsets about your ability to beat the odds.

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Addiction

Being able to recognize problematic gambling behaviors in yourself and others empowers you to nip potential slot addiction in the bud. As mentioned before, some red flags that your slot playing is becoming unhealthy include:

  1. Obsessive thoughts about online slots
  2. Difficulty sticking to time and money limits
  3. Sacrificing too much time for slots
  4. Neglecting responsibilities because of slots
  5. Feeling the need to be secretive about slot playing
  6. Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money
  7. Playing slots to escape problems or relieve negative moods
  8. Trying to chase losses
  9. Telling lies to loved ones about the extent of gambling
  10. Committing crimes like theft or fraud to fund gambling
  11. Asking others to bail you out of gambling debts
  12. Feeling irritable or anxious when trying to cut back on slots
  13. Repeated unsuccessful attempts to control slot playing

If you see any of these warning signs in your behavior, don’t hesitate to seek help. Many resources are available for problem gamblers, from self-help programs to professional counseling. The sooner you address a potential addiction, the easier it is to get it under control.

Gambling Addiction Treatment 

When it comes to treating gambling addiction, a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder is essential. Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, is a severe mental health condition that can have devastating consequences on an individual’s life, including financial ruin, relationship problems, and even criminal behavior.

One of the first steps in treating gambling addiction is to acknowledge the problem and seek professional help. This can be a difficult step for many people, as admitting to a gambling problem can be accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. However, it is crucial to understand that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and that many resources are available to support individuals in their recovery journey.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for gambling addiction. CBT is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to the addiction. During CBT sessions, a therapist works with the individual to develop coping strategies for managing triggers and urges to gamble, as well as to address any underlying emotional or psychological issues that may be contributing to the addiction.

In addition to CBT, other forms of therapy, such as family therapy and group therapy, can also be beneficial in treating gambling addiction. Family therapy can help to address the impact of the addiction on family relationships. It can provide support for family members who may be struggling to cope with their loved one’s behavior. Group therapy, on the other hand, can provide a sense of community and support for individuals in recovery, as they can share their experiences and learn from others going through similar challenges.

Medication may also be used in conjunction with therapy to treat gambling addiction. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are effective in reducing the symptoms of gambling addiction, particularly in individuals who also suffer from depression or anxiety. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, may also be prescribed to help regulate mood swings and impulsive behavior associated with gambling addiction.

In addition to professional treatment, self-help strategies can also be effective in managing gambling addiction. These may include avoiding triggers, such as specific people or places associated with gambling, and finding alternative activities to replace gambling, such as exercise, hobbies, or volunteering. Setting financial boundaries and limiting access to money can also help prevent relapse.

Support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous (GA), can also be a valuable resource for individuals in recovery from gambling addiction. GA is a 12-step program that provides a supportive community for individuals struggling with gambling addiction. Through regular meetings and a sponsor system, GA can help individuals develop coping strategies, build a support network, and maintain accountability in their recovery journey. 

Additional Tips To Help With an Online Gambling Disorder 

In addition to the points mentioned above, some other responsible gambling practices can help you keep your online slot playing safe and fun:

  • Avoid chasing losses by increasing your bets to try to win back money quickly. Accept losses and stick to your predetermined budget.
  • Don’t gamble when you are in a bad mood, stressed out, or depressed. Playing slots to alleviate negative emotions is dangerous.
  • Balance your gambling with exercise, social activities, and other hobbies. Slots should be just one part of a whole, varied life.
  • Never borrow money to play slots or use money intended for necessities. Only gamble with disposable income.
  • Don’t play slots for longer than two hours at a time. Take regular breaks to maintain perspective.
  • Avoid playing slots if gambling has ever caused you problems in the past. Know your limits.
  • Don’t rely on gambling systems or strategies. They don’t work in the long run because slot outcomes are random.
  • Treat slots as an entertainment expense, not an income source. Play for fun, not just to make money.
  • Only play at legitimate online casinos that are licensed and regulated to ensure fair games.

Seeking Help for Problem Gambling

If you believe you or someone you care about may be addicted to online slots or other gambling, seek help as soon as possible. Overcoming a gambling problem is challenging to do on your own, but with support and treatment, it can be done.

Many organizations provide free and confidential help for problem gamblers and their loved ones. Some options include:

These resources offer support groups, counseling, advice, and other tools to help you get your gambling under control. They can also assist you in addressing underlying issues that may contribute to your problematic slot playing. There is no shame in asking for help – getting treatment is a brave step toward recovery.


Problematic gambling doesn’t have to control your life. With commitment, intelligent strategies, and support, you can enjoy online slots responsibly as a fun pastime without addiction. By following the tips in this guide and staying aware of the risks, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your online slot playing safe and enjoyable.

Family members and friends and family must support their loved ones struggling with a gambling problem. Encouraging them to seek professional help, attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings, and creating a supportive environment can make a significant difference in their recovery. With the proper treatment and support, individuals with a gambling disorder can overcome their challenges and lead fulfilling lives free from the grip of compulsive gambling.

Remember to set and stick to limits, never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose, take frequent breaks, avoid playing under the influence, understand how slots work, recognize warning signs, and seek help. With these tools in your arsenal, you can maintain a healthy relationship with online slots and prevent gambling from becoming a destructive force.

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