Most people will engage in some form of gambling in their lifetime, and the majority of them will view gambling as an enjoyable pastime. However, gambling can become an addiction for some that can potentially have a damaging impact on their lives and their loved ones.
Responsible gambling has emerged as a central issue in the online gambling industry. Regulators, with the UK Gambling Commission at the helm, have focused on responsible gambling and enacted changes in order to tackle problem gambling.
But what exactly is Responsible Gambling?
Responsible gambling essentially means a set of conditions and behaviours that aim to protect players and help them gamble without putting themselves or others at risk of harm.
Responsible gambling is a term that applies both to gambling individuals and the broader gambling community.
For players, responsible gambling entails staying within your means and limits and being aware of and understanding the risks associated with gambling. Players who gamble responsibly tend to do so for entertainment. They are able to exercise proper judgment and control over their gambling ability, and they are able to balance gambling with other activities in their lives. Most importantly, they are able to gamble without causing problems or harming themselves or others.
For the broader gambling community, including operators, regulators, and others in the gambling industry, responsible gambling means a common, shared responsibility to curtail problem gambling and ensuring awareness of the risks associated with gambling. This responsibility includes creating an environment that helps prevent problem gambling behaviours and working to protect vulnerable individuals.
While the industry has been introducing a great number of changes to protect players from problem gambling, and while there has been tremendous progress made, it’s worth noting that there is only so much operators and regulators are able to do.
It’s important for players to be proactive as much as possible and ensure that they adopt safe gambling practices.
What can players do?
Responsible gambling means playing in a way that doesn’t risk harm to your financial, social, mental, and physical well-being and the well-being of others around you. It necessitates knowing your personal limits and staying within those limits.
Here are a few tips on how to make sure you gamble responsibly:
- Treat gambling as entertainment and definitely not as a potential source of income.
- Know that gambling is not an answer to any problem.
- Gamble only with money that you can afford to lose.
- Establish your limits (both financial and mental) before you start gambling, and keep your gambling within these limits.
- Know your limits, and be clear about them before you start betting.
- Take frequent breaks. Gambling for extended periods without taking a break can impair your judgment.
- Don’t gamble when you’re upset, angry, or depressed.
- Make sure that gambling is just one part of a well-balanced lifestyle.
- Don’t go chasing losses. Don’t try to win back money that you’ve lost.
Certain gambling behaviours can serve as a sign that you or someone you know may be sliding into problem gambling. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common gambling red flags:
- Preoccupation with gambling, wins and losses included
- Developing tolerance – you need to up the stakes to get the same thrill our of gambling
- Skipping work or attending school (university or college) as a result of gambling
- Inability to stop gambling
- Mood changes – increased irritability or mood swings, needing to get a fix
- Escapism – using gambling to seek distraction from reality, or trouble at home or at work
- Chasing losses – betting more and more in an attempt to win back money you’ve lost
- Hiding gambling from others
- Borrowing money for gambling
- Being secretive about gambling – lying, feeling ashamed about your gambling
The above list is by no means complete. Should you believe that something is amiss with you or a friend, and that gambling might be the source of the problem, please seek help.
Helpful tools and seeking help
Gambling sites must provide, as per UKGC regulations, a number of tools for self-exclusion. These tools include:
- Timeouts/reality checks: You can set up limits to the time you spend online. This can include alerts that tell you how long you’ve been active, or you can request to be automatically logged out.
- Account limits: You can set limits to deposits and other betting options, including setting the amount you can bet or deposit over a period of time.
- Self-exclusion: If you feel it’s time to take a break from gambling, self-exclusion tools allow you to temporarily freeze your account for a period of time ranging from hours to months.
- Account closure: Online gambling providers must give you the option to permanently close your player account. You can also exclude yourself from an entire network of gambling sites or have your IP address blocked.
In addition to the above tools, all gambling sites must provide links to organizations that offer support and counseling to problem gamblers. These organizations can provide much-needed help:
Last revised: 27 July 2020