A person scratches a lottery ticket at a vendor in Taipei on Sunday.
Photo: Chiu Chih-jou, Taipei Times
By Chiu Chih-jou and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff reporter, with staff writer
As people are trying their luck in the lotteries over the Lunar New Year holiday, a psychologist yesterday recommended setting a budget in advance to avoid developing a gambling addiction.
Buying scratch cards and lottery tickets is a favorite holiday activity, but sometimes players can get carried away.
An addiction is defined as repetitive and compulsive behavior, psychiatrist Yang Tsung-tsair （楊聰財） said.
A person might be addicted to gambling if it disrupts their life to the point that they are unable to focus on other things or if they continue to gamble, even if it might bankrupt them, he said.
A sharp increase in the purchase of lottery tickets — for instance from one every week to 10 — paired with feelings of anxiety when not buying tickets could also be signs of addiction, he said.
Most people are able to exercise restraint, but some experience exhilaration bordering on euphoria when gambling, making them want to bet again, Yang said.
A little gambling does not necessarily lead to addiction, but indulging too much or too often could increase the risk, he said.
Stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and feelings of frustration could make people more susceptible to seeking solace in gambling, while others also feel pressured by friends or social circles, he added.
Setting budgets, and seeking other entertainment and psychological support are all ways to avoid the risks associated with gambling, Yang said.
Setting a stop-loss to quit betting within an affordable amount enables a gambler to have fun while insulating themselves from the threat of addiction, he said.
Yang also recommended pursuing other leisure activities such as travel or watching movies to direct one’s focus away from gambling, as well as seeking support from friends, family or a psychologist.
In related news, Taiwan Lottery data show that Taichung had the most scratch-off jackpot winners last year.
A total of 1,092 scratch-off tickets worth NT$1 million （US$31,890） or more were issued before the Lunar New Year last year, 1,087 of which were purchased.
Taichung had the most winners at 164, followed by New Taipei City with 157 and Kaohsiung with 138.
This year, the number of jackpot-winning tickets issued for the holiday reached a record 1,351, Taiwan Lottery said.
Of them, the “20 million Super Red Envelope” （2,000萬超級紅包） costing NT$2,000 per ticket has eight grand prizes of NT$20 million, 10 second-place prizes of NT$2 million plus a chance to win a 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLA180 sports utility vehicle, and 1,000 third-place prizes of NT$1 million.
As of Sunday, two grand prizes, four second prizes and 150 third prizes had been claimed.
Additional reporting by Cheng Chi-fang