What is Responsible Gambling?
Responsible gambling means being able to enjoy slots, table games, sports bets, and other betting-related activities in a controlled and balanced way that doesn’t negatively impact you or your loved ones.
The betting industry has a number of initiatives to help ensure more players are gambling responsibly. For example, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has put together a voluntary code of conduct for operators to use. This includes pledges to market products responsibly and monitor customer behavior in order to spot potential problem gambling.
Gambling is intended to be a form of entertainment, and lots of people enjoy placing the occasional bet on the understanding that the house always has an edge. However, in some cases, placing bets in a controlled, comfortable way can snowball into problem gambling. This can happen gradually, and can even affect those who feel they’re aware of how to bet responsibly.
If you’re gambling to make a profit or recoup losses, as a form of stress relief, or you’re showing signs of compulsive behavior, then you may need to access advice on problem gambling. If your concerns continue, or these options don’t feel sufficient, you can seek practical, interventional help from various resources.
Both land-based and online betting providers have a duty of care to ensure customers are gambling responsibly. There are guidelines for all aspects of operations, including training staff to spot problem gambling and adding website links to organizations that offer confidential support and advice for those struggling with a potential addiction. Many gambling sites are members of self-exclusion programs, which means any member who wants to take a break from gambling can ‘ban’ themselves for a set amount of time. During this time, sites that have allowed self-exclusion cannot contact those players offering bonuses or with any other form of marketing material designed to promote gambling.
Several international operators – such as the UK Gambling Commission – hand out hefty fines to operators considered to be marketing gambling products irresponsibly.
Responsible Gambling Tips
Here are some general pointers on how to bet responsibly and stay in control when you’re gambling online or in person.
Set a Spending Limit
If you’re heading to a casino or planning to play online, you should control your gambling output by setting a spending limit. It’s important to never go over this limit, even if you feel you’re on a winning streak or have an urge to recoup some losses.
Most online gambling providers will allow you to set a deposit limit to help you stay in control. You can usually do this during sign-up or via your account page if you’ve already registered.
Play While Sober
Gambling while under the influence of mind-altering substances such as alcohol can lead to poor decision-making and a lack of self-restraint. Only gamble when you’re sober and feel fully in control of your impulses.
It’s not uncommon for those who struggle with gambling addiction to also suffer from alcoholism or have a substance abuse problem, so it’s important to recognize that there can be a link. That said, even if you do not have these issues, we still highly recommend only placing a wager with a completely clear head.
Know When to Take a Break
A big part of gambling responsibly is knowing when to stop. If gambling is causing you stress or you feel it’s getting out of control, you should try to take some time away.
If things are more serious, consider self-excluding for a set period and look for help online.
Time away from betting sites can give you time to take advantage of the support available and provide the mental space necessary to examine your gambling-related behaviors and identify potential issues.
Never Chase Losses
Chasing losses means trying to win back money you’ve already lost by making further bets. However, this does not fix the problem and often leads to a vicious cycle of further losing bets and money.
Once you’ve reached your spending limit for the day, you need to be able to walk away or log off. If this is something you find difficult to do, then it may indicate a gambling problem.
Understand Gambling Terms and Conditions
You should make sure you understand a gambling site’s terms and conditions before you play there. From knowing the minimum deposit and withdrawal limits to understanding any terms and conditions around bonus offers, being informed will help you make better decisions when you play.
Gambling Addiction Awareness
It’s important to know the signs of gambling addiction, as this will allow you to access advice for yourself, or to help someone else.
Some of the most common indicators of a gambling problem include:
- A lack of control over gambling spending and an inability to cut back or stop
- Increasing the amount of money spent per game, as smaller bets no longer offer enough ‘buzz’
- Spending a lot of time being preoccupied with gambling and how to get enough money to play
- Feeling physical effects when trying to cut down, such as anxiety and restlessness
- Feeling guilt and/or remorse related to your gambling
- Chasing losses and being unable to walk away from a game, even if you’re losing money
- Lying about the amount you’ve spent or the frequency of your gambling
- Stealing, committing fraud, or borrowing to get money for gambling
- Neglecting relationships or missing commitments – at work or in your personal life – in order to gamble
- Losing your temper with friends and family due to increased stress at times when you’re unable to bet or as a result of gambling losses
If you or a loved one are displaying any of the above signs, then it’s worth considering getting some confidential advice, and potentially looking at gambling treatment to help get your life back on track.
While you may have started off players responsibly and occasionally, it’s very important to be able to recognize when gambling has taken over. You may need to access help if gambling has put you under financial pressure, affected your relationships, or caused issues with work performance.
If you’re devoting more and more time to betting sites or land-based venues, and it has caused you to lose interest in other areas of your life, then this can be a sign of problem gambling and action needs to be taken.
Dealing with Problem Gambling
If you’re concerned about your gambling habits or want to help someone who you believe may be struggling with problem gambling, then here are some initial steps to take.
Seek Professional Help
If you are concerned about your gambling habits, you can find advice, information and help online, with a number of organizations offering free and confidential phone lines or live online chat services. There’s also support available for the families and friends of problem gamblers who may be reluctant to admit they have a problem or to seek help independently at this time.
Be Open with Friends and Family
Being open and honest with loved ones is an important step in your recovery. If you’re worried that you are no longer gambling responsibly and feel like things are getting out of hand, then telling a friend or family member can make a real difference. Those closest to you may be able to offer practical and emotional support as well as help you find the necessary treatment.
Remember, problem gambling is nothing to be ashamed of, and asking for help is a sign of bravery and a desire to change.
One of the best things you can do if you find yourself losing control of your gambling is to take a break. This isn’t always easy, especially since online gambling is available 24/7, so it’s worth looking at self-exclusion schemes which prevent you from using existing accounts or signing up for new ones.
Self-exclusion gives you time away from gambling sites, so you can evaluate your behavior and seek help online.
Stopping Payments to Online Gambling Sites
Some major banks don’t allow gambling transactions, so you may want to consider switching to a bank that’ll make it harder for you to deposit at betting sites. You may also be able to block payments to gambling sites being made via your debit or credit card. Call your bank’s customer support team to find out whether they offer this service.
Confidential Advice and Helping Someone with a Gambling Problem
Here are some US-based organizations which offer confidential help and national gambling treatment to anyone concerned about their gambling habits.
National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)
The NCPG is a national gambling organization which runs a countrywide helpline you can call, along with live chat and text services offering free and confidential help with problem gambling. The national gambling advice lines are open 24/7 and the organization has dozens of call centers across the country – providing help to people in all 50 states.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
Gamblers Anonymous offers hotlines for different states and runs physical and online meetings across the USA where those who need support with gambling addiction can support each other. Gamblers Anonymous offers a 12-step program for people who want to give up gambling for good.
Many states also run their own problem gambling hotlines. Simply search for your state’s council on problem gambling to find details of individual organizations.