Temptations of the modern world are everywhere, and they especially lurk on the Internet. Having control over the urge to do something we may regret later is one of the hardest things to do. However, we are all humans and humans make mistakes; that’s what they do. Now, when it comes to online gambling, it does not have to be necessarily bad for you. On the contrary, it can provide you with an enjoyable and rewarding gaming experience provided you have control over your habits.
Moderation is key to having fun at online casinos. When we talk about moderation, we talk about responsible gambling. Welcome to our guide to responsible gambling, created to explain the concept and provide you with useful information on what you can do to prevent problem gambling. Also, on this page, you will find the list of organisations offering professional counselling when needed. Stay with us, read our guide and thank us later.
Online gambling is a form of entertainment designed with grown-up people in mind. As grown-ups, we should be responsible for ourselves and our possessions. Yet, responsible gambling is a much concept that goes beyond personal responsibility. It entails the responsibility of online casino operators as well.
An online casino should provide you with a safe gaming experience and comply with high industry standards. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the operator should also protect players from gambling addiction and other potential negative consequences of this form of entertainment. As a matter of fact, casino operators are required to apply responsible gambling principles by gaming authorities, or they may lose their licence.
So, what is responsible gambling? It is a set of policies and requirements that should protect vulnerable gamblers, prevent underage gambling, ensure information privacy and protect your funds, and use ethical marketing tools to advertise their services and offers. More on the tools they provide players with later in the article.
The uncontrollable urge to keep playing casino games even though you have run out of the money you have set aside for this purpose is the first sign you should pay attention to. Many terms are used to describe this condition – compulsive gambling, gambling disorder, problem gambling or gambling addiction.
A chance to hit a win that is considerably larger than your stake can easily trick you into risking more than you can afford. Some players do it to recover their losses while others believe that they can win big. Anyways, gambling can be as addictive as any other vice, like alcohol or drugs. It stimulates the reward system in our brains.
So, let us discuss the signs that can indicate that you may be affected by problem gambling. Identifying and understanding your problem is half the solution. There are things you can do before you require professional treatment. The first red flag would be thinking about the next gambling session and how to get money for it. If you are preoccupied with gambling and cannot get it out of your head, you should be worried.
One of the first things you learn as a newbie to gambling is that you should have a budget for it and set your win and loss limits. It is so-called bankroll management. If you notice that you want to risk larger amounts, and don't feel the same thrill as earlier, you should take your gambling habit seriously.
Have you tried to control or stop gambling unsuccessfully, or have you felt restless when trying to limit the time and money you spend at an online casino? Well, this may be a clear sign that you got hooked on gambling. Besides, if you have tried to escape your everyday problems or bad feeling through gambling, it may be another red flag you must not neglect.
Excessive gambling does not cause only financial problems. The player can start lying to their family members, lose their job or even key relationships because of this problem. What’s more, they can involve in criminal activities to obtain more money for gambling or cover their losses, which are generated through borrowed funds, for example. As you can see, there are many problems gambling addiction can lead to, so if you have noticed any of these signs, you have to be honest to yourself and ask for help.
Now, if you don’t have any of the above-mentioned symptoms (yes, we refer to them as symptoms as gambling addiction is a mental health issue that should be treated), here is what you can do to stay in control and don’t let gambling ruin your life.
You have joined an online casino, and you enjoy every second you spend at it. Have you noticed that your daily life or habits have changed since you started to gamble online? Consider keeping a diary where you will jot down how much time and money you spend per gaming session. It is the best way to keep track of your gambling habits and be honest with yourself. If you feel that you may have a problem, be honest with your nearest environment, like family members or close friends, and tell them all that bothers you.
Many gambling experts will tell you that it is the only way to be successful in this form of entertainment. No, we don’t talk about winning a life-changing jackpot, we talk about getting a grip. Managing your money is the best you can do for your budget and your life in general. Only by doing so can you enjoy the gameplay without guilt. So, before you start wagering your hard-earned cash, make sure to know how much money you can spend per session and what your win and loss limits are. Recommendation: Whenever you reach the win limit clear your winnings to prevent yourself from wagering them further.
Keeping busy with activities you find fun or inspiring can help a lot and distract you from online gambling. To put it simply, playing casino games may be your favourite pastime activity, but it should not be the only one you spend your time on. Meet friends, go for a walk, ride a bike, find a (new) hobby, read a book, watch a movie… The list is long, and it’s all about your preferences. So, make sure to find a way to use your free time wisely and avoid gambling online if you think that you are getting preoccupied with it. Going offline can help a lot.
Before we move on, here are some questions you may ask yourself to see whether your gambling habits are under control:
If you cannot stay in control of your gambling habits, you can use tools created to help you do it. These tools are part of the responsible gambling concept and operators are required to include them to help their customers control their habits. Here is an overview of them:
If you cannot manage your bankroll yourself and keep exceeding limits, some tools will do it for you. At the most reputable online casinos, you can use the deposit limit tool which will prevent you from depositing more. Just enter the amount you want to deposit and set the deposit limit. It can be set on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and functions as a manual restriction. So, you will have to change it yourself and has nothing to do with the minimum and maximum deposit limit of the casino. The manual deposit limit has to be set within casino limits, of course.
As for the loss limit, it works in a similar way. You can set it for a period you choose, whether that be a day, week, month or year. After it expires, it will be automatically reset in most cases. This tool will practically prevent you from losing more than the amount you have entered. If you want to increase your limit, keep in mind that the change may take effect only if you confirm your decision after 7 days, for instance. However, if you want to lower the loss limit, the change will apply instantly.
Not only that you can set deposit and loss limits, but you can also set so-called session limits, also known as session reminders. Just as its name suggests, this tool allows you to limit your gambling sessions and control how much time you spend playing casino games. If you activate the session limit tool, it will stop the gameplay once the amount of time you have selected expires. Before the time is up, you will be reminded that the session will end soon, allowing you to finish the game. Session limits can be changed as well, but these changes will come into effect after 24 hours.
There is another form of this tool available at certain casinos, and it is called reality checks. It allows you to keep track of your playtime and alerts you of your session length. Just set the alarm, and it will alert you how much time you have spent playing casino games every 30 minutes or so. You can turn the reality check alarm on and off as you like, which is a more flexible option to use. Another term for the same tool is time alert.
A time out is another responsible gambling tool that enables you to remove yourself from the casino for a certain period of time. When you activate it, you will be prevented from accessing the gambling site for a selected amount of time. It can be 24 hours, a week or month or any other period that suits you, up to six weeks. For anything above it, you will have to opt for self-exclusion we will explain later.
On the Internet, you can find self-assessment tests that can help you find out more about the impact of gambling on your life and see whether it has become a bad habit. You will be given a set of questions you need to respond to or select how much a statement applies to you by choosing a number from a scale. Once you finish the test, you will see the results accompanied by a set of personalised recommendations. Of course, this tool makes sense only if you respond honestly to all the questions.
Being the most radical of all responsible gambling tools, self-exclusion is today available at all regulated online casinos, allowing players to exclude themselves from gambling for an extended period. Typically, you will be offered to choose from a period of between 3 months and 5 years. Once you select the timeframe, your account will be locked, and you will not have access to it for as long as you have opted out.
Keep in mind that if you have accounts with more than one gambling site within a group of casinos, you may be prevented from entering all of them. Although you can send a plea to the operator to unblock your account before the self-exclusion period expires, you should not expect it to happen. This tool is taken quite seriously, and you should use it only if you are 100% sure that you want to be excluded from gambling. If you want to help yourself truly, make sure not to join other gaming venues during this period.
If nothing of the afore-mentioned tips and tools have helped you control your gambling habits, there are global and local organisations that can do it. We call them responsible gambling organisations, and you can turn to them anytime you feel that you have a problem.
Online casinos regulated by trustworthy gaming authorities have to work together with these organisations and refer their customers to them by putting logos and links in the footer of their websites. Whom you can turn to depends on the country you are coming from. Let’s take a closer look at some markets and organisations dealing with this issue.
The United Kingdom is a large and regulated online gambling market with a long tradition and reputable authority. UK players who are affected by gambling can contact more than 20 organisations and services catering to them. Some of them, like BeGambleAware, provide advice on gambling matters and help players make choices based on facts.
Other UK providers of free information and support for those affected by problem gambling include GamCare, Count Me Out, Gam-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous and more. There is also the Christian Centre for Gambling Rehabilitation, the Chinese Christian charity helping mainly Chinese-speaking UK citizens stop gambling and recover from its adverse effects.
Gamban and Gamblock are apps that you can use to prevent yourself from accessing gambling sites on mobile and desktop devices, respectively. There are also debt support organisations, like the Money Advice Service founded by the government to help people manage their money. Problem gamblers can turn to other support organisations, like Samaritans, a 24/7 service that provides confidential emotional support. All information on active organisations and services are listed on the UK Gambling Commission website.
While the legal status of online gambling has not been regulated at the national level, there is the National Council on Problem Gambling that helps players from all corners of the US. They say that they serve as the national advocate for programs and services created to assist people and families affected by gambling. Their mission is to bring together all stakeholders at the state and national level to find a comprehensive solution to problem gambling.
Funded as part of an agreement between all State and Territory Governments and the Australian Government, Gambling Help Online allows Aussies to access counselling and information services through chat 24/7 free. It is designed as a stepping stone for further help-seeking and provides players with an opportunity to speak to professional counsellors with expertise in problem gambling.
In Canada, players affected by online gambling can seek help in the provinces of their residence. Or, they contact the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), an independent non-profit organisation addressing problem gambling in this country and globally for over 35 years. Creating safe, sustainable gambling behaviour and a world free of problem gambling is their mission.
The Fachverband Glücksspielsucht eV is an association founded in 1998 that brings scientists, doctors, lawyers, psychotherapists and other professionals with the same mission together. All of them work on gambling addiction, and their services are funded exclusively from donations, membership and occasional fees. The association is a member of the German Central Office for Addiction Issues and works independently, meaning that they have no providers of games of chance contribute to it in any way.
Norwegian Hjelpelinjen, or simply the Helpline, is founded as collaboration between the Norwegian Lotteries Authority and Sykehuset Innlandet HF Sanderud, which is one of two psychiatric hospitals within Innlandet hospital. As a regulator, the Norwegian Lotteries Authority oversees the market and ensures that responsible gambling and ethical marketing tools are used. Problem gambling is part of the Department of Drug-Related Psychiatry and Addiction, a ward at Sykehuset Innlandet HF Sanderud, set up to help people in crisis.
In New Zealand, those who are worried about their gambling habits can contact Gambling Helpline, a 24/7 freephone service where they can receive immediate support or get referred to another gambling support organisation. It is associated with the Government's Choice Not Chance campaign aimed to end problem gambling.
Winners know when to stop, says the banner on the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARGF) that launched the widely known National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP). It is a comprehensive industry response to problem gambling created after this form of entertainment was legalised in the mid-1990s. The SARGF was founded by the government gambling bodies and the gambling industry, and it is funded by voluntary contributions from the gambling industry. Although online gambling has not been legalised in South Africa yet, if you have a problem with it, you can turn to the 24/7 counselling line to get free support, assessment of a referral for face-to-face.
When it comes to problem gambling, one must be aware that it does not affect only the person who gambles, but also their loved ones, including family and friends. That’s why it is crucial to act as soon as you notice any of the signs we have mentioned above. Support is extremely important, so if you notice that someone yours has been affected by this problem, make sure to be there for them and help them get out of the crisis. Of course, if it’s you, you should not hesitate to ask for support, friendly or professional. Here is what else you should do if you have lost control over your gambling habits.
Those affected by gambling addiction tend to sweep the problem under the carpet. It is the worst thing to do as that does not mean that you have got rid of it. Even if you try to hide that you are hooked on casino games, the problem will lurk somewhere else – on your bank account, unpaid bills, debts, and so on. So, instead of hiding the problem, be honest with yourself, understand it and ask your family members or friends for support.
We know that it is not an easy thing to do, but you must do it unless you want to see your life taking a wrong turn. As we have previously mentioned, there are many tools you can use to restrict your online gambling activities. Which one you will opt for depends on the severity of your problem. The best way would be to stay away from any online casino through self-exclusion for as long as you need.
If responsible gambling tools don’t help, seek professional help. Like with any other addiction, some programmes can help you overcome compulsive gambling. Depending on the country you are coming from, you will be able to choose from free or paid services. Even if you need to pay for professional counselling, think of it as an investment in the healthy future, free of gambling harms.
If you are still with us, you have already learned that the awareness of the problem is key to overcoming it. Now, we want to share with you a few tips and tricks you can apply whether you are affected by problem gambling or not.
Your main goal when playing casino games should not be winning but staying in control.
When it comes to online gambling, one can easily go down the rabbit hole. That’s why we provide you with a few don’ts telling you what you should never do.
To enjoy online gambling to the fullest, you need to sign up with reputable gambling sites only. They have to be regulated and licensed by trustworthy bodies and provide players with multiple banking options in terms of both currencies and payment methods. Security and fairness must be guaranteed. Besides, make sure to join those online casinos where you can choose from a full range of games coming from various providers. A decent gaming venue worth your time and money should offer a plethora of slots, RNG and live dealer table and card games, lottery-like games and so on. Also, it should offer bonuses and promotions with a fair policy, meaning that you can meet wagering requirements and turn your free cash into withdrawable money without risking a fortune.
When it comes to online gambling, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Metaphorically, of course. Yet, for some people who have experienced severe cases of gambling addiction, consequences were worse than that. We don’t want to scare you, but it is our responsibility to warn you that this form of entertainment has its dark side if you let it take control over your life. We don’t talk about playing a few rounds of your favourite casino games recreationally, we talk about turning fun into your number one priority and putting at peril all other aspects of your life.
If you want to enjoy online gambling to the fullest, make sure to approach it without great expectations to win big. We all enjoy winning streaks and easy cash, but we cannot base our lives on playing casino games. Most of them are games of sheer luck, which means that we cannot do anything about results. Yet, we can do a lot to stay in control and live a balanced life without problems compulsive gambling can cause.