What is Responsible Gambling?
Responsible gambling refers to the act of playing, betting, or wagering in a manner that is safe, controlled, and mindful of the potential risks involved. It emphasises a balanced approach to gambling and looks at it as a form of entertainment, rather than a source of income or a way to escape real-life problems and issues. The key principles of responsible gambling include:
- Self-awareness and control: This is about knowing your limits and sticking to them. It’s essential to be aware of your behaviours and to gamble only what you can afford to lose without affecting your lifestyle.
- Setting limits: This involves setting both time and monetary limits before starting to gamble. A responsible gambler never chases losses and knows when it’s time to stop.
- Understanding the risks: Before engaging in gambling, it’s crucial to understand that it is a game of chance, and losses are a part of the game. It’s important not to perceive gambling to make money.
- Knowing when to seek help: If gambling starts to interfere with your daily life, causing financial problems, stress, or feelings of guilt or anxiety, it’s time to seek help. There are many resources available for individuals who may be struggling with problem gambling.
- Honesty: Responsible gambling also involves honesty about your habits, both to yourself and others. This includes not hiding your gambling from family or friends and being truthful about the amount of time and money spent on gambling.
- Maintaining balance: Responsible gamblers ensure that gambling does not get priority over other aspects of their lives, such as personal relationships, professional commitments, and recreational activities.
Signs of Problem Gambling
Problem gambling can show itself in a variety of ways, and recognising the signs is the first step towards seeking help and treatment for yourself or others. It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or veteran gambler, signs of problem gambling can appear in anyone. The consequences of problem gambling can evolve to become severe – negatively affecting relationships, mental health, the gambler’s financial situation and their ability to hold down a job.
Common signs of problem gambling to watch out for include:
- Spending more time or money on gambling than you can afford – For example, Biraj, who has recently lost his job, is gambling using his limited savings to distract himself from the stress of job hunting. He’d rather eat cheap, non-nutritious food than stop gambling. He considers picking up a part-time job to tide him over until he finds full-time employment but chooses against it when he realises that the part-time job will reduce his gambling time.
- Feeling the need to be secretive about your gambling – For example, Alicia, a mother who is on maternity leave, secretly enjoys playing slots during work hours while her partner is at work and her children are at school. She feels guilty about this behaviour and doesn’t tell anyone about it for fear of being judged. The secrecy starts putting a massive strain on Alicia’s relationship with her partner.
- Gambling even when you don’t have the money – For example, Anwar frequently borrows small amounts of money from family and friends, promising to pay them back after winning. But he always ends up losing the money. Anwar’s behaviour is putting a strain on his relationships. When people start to challenge him and stop lending him money, he even contemplates stealing money from his parent’s house to use for gambling.
- Having trouble controlling your gambling – For example, Thea gambles to unwind during the weekends. Recently, she’s been chasing wins on slot and crash games and has been finding it hard to stop betting unless she’s won a certain amount. She’s recently taken out credit card debt to gamble and has turned off all loss limits on her casino account. She’s convinced a life-changing win is around the corner – after which she thinks she can stop gambling forever.
- Friends or family expressing concerns about your gambling – For example, Richard, who is recently retired, has been told by several members of his family that he has changed significantly in recent weeks and has become extremely moody on days when he loses big on his sports bets. They’ve pointed out he should speak to a therapist about his behaviour.
- Gambling to escape from other problems or feelings – For example, Cynthia, who used to gamble when she was younger with no issues, starts gambling again after her mother’s death and depression diagnosis occurred in the same year. She gambles to get her mind off these difficult circumstances but finds that when she stops gambling, she feels worse, and feels drawn to gamble even more.
- Neglecting work, school, or personal obligations to gamble – For example, Ben, who is juggling a full-time job and a part-time degree, starts gambling on his phone during every break he can get to unwind. Soon, he starts gambling during work hours and in the evenings, when he should be studying. His boss has noticed and has told him he will get fired if he continues with this behaviour. Ben would rather get fired than stop gambling.
- Experiencing mood swings, anxiety and depression due to gambling – For example, Heather has been a bingo player for decades, and has always played for enjoyment. Recently though, she’s started noticing physical symptoms when she gambles, including a racing heart, pain in her chest, and general discomfort. When she loses, she gets extremely angry. She’s also suffering from insomnia and finds herself drawn to gamble more during the sleepless nights.
Of course, these are just some examples. Several different problem gambling signs might appear in a person, and they might be obvious, or not so. If you spot the signs of problem gambling in yourself and others, seek help immediately. We’ve outlined what you can do below.
Tips for Responsible Gambling
Responsible gambling is a shared responsibility between yourself as a gambler, and the platforms that provide the games and matches you can bet on. Licensed online casinos are committed to responsible gambling to safeguard all players, and they offer several tools to help you set limits and boundaries for your play. This is why you should only play on reputable sites like these. Some of the tools available include gambling limits, time limits, reminders and more.
Here’s how you can use these tools, as well as some other key tips to make sure you gamble responsibly:
- Establishing gambling limits: Before you start gambling, establish a set limit for how much money you’re willing to risk. This should be an amount you can afford to lose without it affecting your daily life. Never gamble money meant for important obligations like rent, bills, or other essentials. Also, avoid gambling with borrowed money. If you lose this money, you might be forced to pay it back using money meant for essentials or emergencies. Most reputable casinos offer deposit limits, which let you set a limit on the amount you can deposit into your gambling account over a certain period (for example, daily, weekly, or monthly).
- Setting time limits: Gambling, like any recreational activity, should have time limits. Allocate a specific amount of time for gambling and stick to it. This will help ensure that gambling does not interfere with your other daily responsibilities and activities. Most reputable casinos have time-out limits, which allow you to take a break from gambling for a set period, during which you won’t be able to log into your account.
- Avoid chasing losses: Everyone experiences losses while gambling. It’s crucial to understand that chasing losses, that is, continuing to gamble to try to win back money you’ve lost often leads to bigger losses.
- Balance gambling with other activities: Make sure that gambling doesn’t become your only form of entertainment or leisure activity. It’s essential to maintain balance and keep up with other hobbies and social activities.
- Understanding the odds and probabilities: Remember that gambling games are games of chance, and the house always has the edge. It’s important to understand the odds and accept that winning is not guaranteed. Understanding the probability will help you make informed decisions and keep your expectations realistic.
Responsible Gambling Tools and Resources
Sometimes though, even when you take some or all the above-mentioned measures, you might still feel you are showing signs of problem gambling. In this case, there are additional tools and resources you can consider. Let’s take a look:
- Self-Assessment Tests for Problem Gambling: These tests are designed to help individuals determine whether they may have a problem with gambling. They usually consist of a series of questions about your gambling habits and their impact on your life. A well-known self-assessment tool is the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), which can provide insight into whether you might need to seek professional help.
- Self-Exclusion Options: This is a more long-term solution that allows you to block access to your account for a set period, typically six months to five years. This is usually used when someone believes they have a serious problem with gambling. Self-exclusion options are available on individual casino sites, and there are also programs you can sign-up for that blanket ban all gambling sites from your devices.
- Helpline Numbers and Support Organizations for Problem Gamblers: Several organisations offer support and advice to individuals struggling with problem gambling. In the UK, the National Gambling Helpline provides confidential advice, information and emotional support throughout Great Britain to anyone experiencing problems with gambling. They can be reached at 0808 8020 133. Other organisations include GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous, and the Gordon Moody Association. If you live outside the UK, you will find organisations that provide support to problem gamblers with a quick online search. You can also reach out to your family doctor or therapist, who will refer you to the right professionals to get support.
Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, don’t hesitate to reach out to these resources for support. If reaching out by yourself seems too daunting, speak to a trusted family member or friend and ask them to help you reach out to a professional.
Age, Legal Requirements and Parental Controls
Gambling is adult-only activity as it requires maturity and an understanding of the inherent risks involved when betting money. The legal age to gamble varies across regions and is typically either 18 or 21 years old. You must make sure to follow these age laws depending on where you live to maintain lawful and responsible behaviour and safeguard yourself.
You also have a responsibility to not expose underage individuals to gambling environments or platforms. This is particularly important since in today’s digital age, online gambling has soared in popularity and has become widely accessible on computer and mobile devices.
With this comes heightened importance for parental controls to protect minors from accessing gambling platforms. These controls, integrated into many digital platforms, allow parents to monitor their children’s online activities, including blocking their access to gambling websites.
If you are a parent, you must be proactive in utilising these controls and have open discussions with your children about the potential risks and legal consequences of underage gambling. This is especially true if, as an adult, you enjoy online gambling in your free time in a home environment which you share with children.
Monitoring your child’s online activity, securing your gambling account passwords, and actively engaging in dialogues about responsible internet use can significantly contribute to preventing minors from engaging with gambling content.
You should also take extra care if you gamble online and live in the same household with someone who is a recovering or recovered problem gambler. Have an honest and open conversation with them about gambling and set clear rules and boundaries to safeguard their recovery. For example, you might decide to not discuss online gambling with them, like your losses and wins. And you might choose to only gamble in your private study or bedroom, so as not to expose the other person to online gambling in common areas of the household.
Together, we can ensure that gambling remains a secure and enjoyable pastime for adults and shield minors from potential gambling-related harm.
Responsible gambling needs to be at the core of any type and form of gambling to make sure the activity stays what it was always intended to be: a fun and enjoyable activity with zero negative consequences on an individual’s life and health.
As we’ve discussed, responsible gambling involves understanding the risks, setting limits, and maintaining a healthy balance between gambling and other activities.
If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, don’t hesitate to seek help. Various resources are available, including self-assessment tools and professional helplines. Don’t let feelings of shame or fear prevent you from reaching out. Getting help is the first step towards overcoming problem gambling, and several organisations and individuals are available, in some cases, free of charge, to provide professional support.
As a community of gamblers, all of us here at PlatinPlay are with you in our commitment to promote responsible gambling and safeguard players everywhere.