The numbers count down and your palms start to sweat. Another roomie types '2 TG' in the chat window, and you know that somebody is about to beat you to the jackpot. You're close to that huge win – a life-changing win that could pay off your debts and a nice holiday in the sunshine. But CURSES! You were beaten to the prize by another player, and disappointment floods your body.
But don't worry, there's always next time… and the time after that…and the time after that. Pretty soon what started out as as a fun pastime has now become an obsession, an addiction even. You used to enjoy a few games after work and perhaps a few before bed, only spending a couple of pounds per day on your newfound hobby.
But now this has escalated, and you're playing at every available moment, even on your mobile phone, even playing in secret. You're starting to spend cash you don't have – bills go unpaid, and last week, you even took a day off work so you could stay home and enjoy the game.
Your partner seems concerned – he checked a bank statement and saw hundreds of pounds missing. He asks if you're ok, and without glancing up from your favourite slot game, you tell him everything is FINE, if only he'd leave you alone to concentrate on winning.
But you don't need help – you've got it all under control, and undoubtedly, you'll win a massive jackpot soon, enough to replenish that bank balance. But, chances are, won't happen and you slide deeper into gambling addiction.
Sadly, this is the path taken by a small proportion of players, who get hooked on the game and plunged into debt, so it's vital to recognise those first signs before it gets out of control.
Have a look at these questions, and if you answer yes to the majority, then perhaps it's time to seek help with a charity such as Gamcare.
Gamcare is an independent charity which provides support, information and advice to those suffering from a gambling problem. They offer support in several different forms including face-to-face counselling. There are Gamcare advisers in virtually every region, and they have an interactive map on their website showing where where to find your nearest counsellor.
If you can't reach a Gamcare counsellor due to physical reasons, it's reassuring to know they also offer online counselling. These take the form of 50 minute WebCam conversations on the same time and same day each week.
Gamcare also offer short-term residential counselling at Broadway Lodge, on the outskirts of Weston-super-Mare. The program is accredited by the European Association for the Treatment of Addiction.
It's not just bingo players can get addicted to – there are many opportunities for online gambling, including scratchcards, poker, roulette, and slot games. Indeed, for somebody with a compulsive gambling disorder, it can be difficult to avoid such sites – they are advertised all over the Internet, and on television as well.
This can make gambling tendencies worse, even if players know it can hurt themselves or their loved ones. Compulsive gamblers keep on playing, whether they're up, down, broke, flush, depressed, or happy – even if they can't afford to lose, people with a gambling addiction can't stop betting.
There are numerous reasons why people may turn to gambling – to escape stress, depression, loneliness, anxiety and fear. Bingo chat rooms are friendly welcoming places, and it can be easy to stay online and keep playing, simply for the social aspect.
There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to keep you away from gambling. For instance, you can't play without money – so get rid of your credit cards, let somebody else be in charge of your bank account, and keep a limited amount of cash in your pocket at all times.
It's also hard to gamble if you don't have enough time. Schedule recreational activities with your family, take up a new hobby, and plan outings – anything that doesn't involve gambling is good.
It's also possible to block gambling sites from your computer, and to self-exclude from bingo sites.
The first part of solving the problem is admitting you have a problem, so search within your soul deeply and ask if you are developing, or already have a problem. Once you have answered this question truthfully, contact Gamcare or other such charity, the links to which can be found at the bottom of all UK regulated bingo sites.