Responsible Gambling

Shihaam Isaacs

Like many, I love to gamble! But it does get me into trouble sometimes. Is this normal or do I have a problem? Maybe it is time to get a second opinion

Playing casino games at online and land-based casinos are seen as fun opportunities to win some extra cash. While most see it as a form of entertainment, some players may develop a habit by playing more often and spending more than they can afford, which in turn, feeds addictive behaviour.

Of course, there are many reasons why a gambling problem can surface. Gambling problems can arise from the desire to quickly reach some life-long goals, to retire early, or to buy the fancy sports car you’ve always wanted, but end up continuously chasing these dreams. Addictive behaviour can also become active based on the pure enjoyment of the games and simply not knowing when to stop. Studies also indicate problems in gambling are triggered with casinos presenting misleading information, making games seem better than they are or by offering promotional bonuses and holidays that that seem easy to obtain.

The fact is, there are many reasons problems in gambling resides within all of us. It’s not specific to younger or older players; it doesn’t matter if you’re struggling or if you’re a millionaire, these problems can occur unexpectedly and usually without you even knowing that your habits perfectly reflect that of a problem gambler.

The UK is one of the biggest casino markets, making it an ideal place to conduct studies in problem gambling. As it stands, an estimated 2 million people are at risk of developing a gambling addiction or already have a problem.  Research by the UK Gambling Commission also concludes that well over 400,000 adults are currently suffering the effects of a severe gambling problem while over 550,000 are at moderate risk and around 1,4 million players considered as low risk. These reports were conducted in August of 2017, which indicates significant growth in the world of gambling each year, meaning an increased amount of players enter the casino and betting market and could develop a dangerous habit.

With the hopes of decreasing gambling problems, various licensing establishments, such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Gaming Authority of Malta, including new requirements for casino operators to follow. This includes offering deposit limits and keeping the player informed about how long they’ve been playing with each session. These casinos also need to have accurate details about problems in gambling and provide the necessary resources players can use if they need help. In addition to this, there are many other factors and laws that online gambling brands need to follow such as the recent inclusion of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires operators to be open and honest about their operations.

In this complete guide to responsible gambling, we cover all the information you need to play responsibly while offering the details of how to recognise a problem in gambling, whether it’s with yourself or with that of a friend or family member. It’s always important to take precautions with gambling, even when the habit doesn’t seem to be a problem at the current stage.

What is Responsible Gambling?

Responsible gambling, also commonly referred to responsible gaming, forms part of the requirements of a gambling license that online casinos, lotteries, sportsbooks and service providers need to adhere to, to ensure they follow the rules and comply to the highest standards. These standards ensure players are protected and that the operator offers all the information regarding fairness, security, terms and conditions and the consequences of gambling online.

Online brands need to make sure that players are protected from underage gambling all the way through to the right to exclude oneself from a particular gambling site, setting deposit limits, as well as protection from fraudulent activity and the right to complete privacy. Therefore, responsible gambling doesn’t just relate to the player, but rather to the supplier of services as well. Service providers need to adhere to the terms and conditions of a gambling license, which mostly relates to player protection and monitoring high-risk players.

Areas of Responsible Gambling

For a better understanding of what responsible gambling consists of, it’s important to know the elements that define this concept. These include the following:

Vulnerability

One of the critical areas of responsible gambling requires service providers to cover the measurements that can be used by players to control their gambling habits. This includes the option to limit deposits per week or month. Some online casinos even allow you to limit the amount of time you play at a casino per day or the amount you spend, irrespective of your account balance. Operators also need to include a self-exclusion option, either for a set period or on a permanent basis, in which case the gambling establishment would no longer be allowed to accept any bets or deposits from the player.

Fairness

One of the most prominent aspects of responsible gambling relates to the integrity of games, promotions and other services provided by the casino, lottery and sports betting venue. All games need to be tested, and the operator has to meet a certain overall level to remain within the licensing terms and conditions. As for promotions, most licensing authorities state that the bonus terms and conditions have to be stated clearly, it needs to be within limits and provide the player with fair chances.

Advertising

The manner in which service providers market and present their promotions also falls under responsible gambling. They have to ensure accurate information, state that the promotions aren’t for players under a certain age and include the terms and conditions. The information cannot be misleading or target vulnerable players. 

Criminal and Fraudulent Activity

To ensure 100% security and the monitoring of responsible gambling, services providers include a system called “Know your Customer” or KYC for short, which ensures the operator can pick up on any suspicious activity relating to privacy and security. KYC documents are usually a set of files such as personal identification and utility bills to verify identity.

User Satisfaction

As a player, you have the right to complain about any services provided by a gambling site. As part of responsible gambling, the establishment needs to have processes in place to handle a complaint and react to it. Alternatively, they need to include a third-party company to handle these matters on their behalf.

Reliability and Security

Service providers also agree to offer a secure and reliable gaming environment that makes their internal controls viable to be tested by auditors for fairness. It also relates to payment system security, account privacy and more, which requires the establishment to ensure up to date security and encryption systems such as SSL and 128 or 256-bit encryption security.

How to Gamble Responsibly

There are many ways to ensure your gambling habits remain at low risk, but as with most forms of temptation, it requires dedication and willpower. However, by following patterns in your gameplay, you’ll quickly recognise possible problems and ways to avoid them.

Below are various steps and some guidance as to when to take action.

It’s Entertainment

One of the most difficult and important aspects of responsible gambling is to remember that gambling should be considered a form of entertainment. Though winnings might seem easy to come by at times, it should never be expected all of the time as the house edge remains in favour of the gambling operator. As they say, the house always wins.

Considering a professional or profitable gambling career is one of the leading causes of problem gambling, which also relates to attempts at winning more money for a particular reason. When practising responsible gambling, you’ll find it’s never a good idea to play with money you need and if you really want to play a few games, ensure that it’s money that you can afford to lose.

Pay Attention to Time Spent at Casinos

Since gambling activities are entertaining and, most players tend to focus on nothing else but the game, a sense of time seems to slip away with ease. Therefore, as part of responsible gambling rules, operators now need to include a clear indication of time. In places such as the UK, service providers would interrupt your gaming session and inform you of how long you’ve been playing with the current session.

The amount of time spent at a gambling site could lead to problems in gambling, especially with spending hours trying to work out the best strategies. This is considered a problem as gambling now becomes a priority for the player. 

Player Protection Tools

As mentioned above there are many methods players can use to control addictive gambling such as:

  1. Deposit Limits
  2. Self-Exclusion
  3. Gambling Help Programs
  4. KYC

Use Third Party Companies for Gambling Aid

Should you find yourself having a problem with limiting your gambling behaviour, it is a good indication that you may benefit from professional gambling help program such as BeGambleAware. Such programs have experts ready to assist and give you the steps to getting any gambling-related problems under control. There are various options to choose from, each created to meet your needs and make it as easy as possible.

Underage Gambling

Underage gambling is another major breach of contract, which is why gambling sites need to state that no players under the age of 18 are allowed to sign up, deposit or play under any circumstances. Operators also need to ensure this, which is confirmed with proof of ID and proof of address, which is then cross-checked with the player's banking method.

If you cannot provide accurate information regarding your identity or other details, the online service provider has the right to close your account without making any payments or refunds whatsoever. Most countries also include legal action against illegal players.

How to Identify a Problem with Gambling

Gambling problems can occur in many different ways, but to recognise a possible addiction, you need to pay attention to a number of factors. If you have one or more of the following gambling-related problems, it’s best to take steps to control the problem as soon as possible.

Using Money You Can’t Afford to Lose

As mentioned above, gambling should be enjoyed with money that’s been set aside for entertainment or specifically for gambling purposes. Using money that you need, even in small amounts would indicate problematic behaviour.

Even with deposit limits, it’s still possible to wager more than what you can afford to lose. The idea of “I’ll win more” is considered a problem all on its own as it leads to using more money to try and recover previous losses.

Borrowing Money to Gamble

Under no circumstances should you ever need to borrow money for any reasons relating to gambling or lend money to anyone who wants to gamble. Not only does this create problems with family and friends, but playing with borrowed money establishes an obligation to win money and pay back the person you’ve acquired it from.

Therefore, you may find yourself trying different gaming styles, strategies and feeling more pressure to win back the money. This could quickly start a gambling problem, especially with players who don’t have the additional funds to pay back the friend or family member.

Don’t Count on Past Big Wins

Getting a big win on a slot, table game, a bet or a lottery ticket or sports match is a fantastic feeling, but a desire to get the same win could lead to betting more than you should or playing more often. Casino games are built on random number generators, which ensure payouts are entirely arbitrary and that the edge is always in favour of the house. This means a big win is worth celebrating, but the chances of it happening again are very low.

If you manage a big win, instead enjoy the winning and the additional cash and do not under any circumstances change the way you play or how much and often you bet. It’s also recommended to withdraw the winnings, so you can’t use the cash to bet at higher values, which could result in a loss of those winnings and a problem with gambling from that point on.

Even gambling strategies are risky as there’s no such thing as a perfect strategy. To win money, it means you are leaving a gap for a possible loss, which is where the house edge comes in along with the odds in sports betting. If you use a strategy and find yourself betting more than usual as a result of success, either decrease the starting bets or ditch the approach altogether.

Where to Get Help with a Gambling Addiction

Online gambling sites have to provide accurate information and links to third-party companies to offer assistance for problem gamblers. These are usually located at the bottom of their website footer or as part of their responsible gaming information page.

Various professional companies have the resources to assist with problems in gambling. Below, we provide the information you need to get in touch along with the services they provide.

GamCare

GamCare is one of the best and most recommended UK-based gamble addiction companies on the net. They offer professional assistance, support, advice and treatment to help you gain control of your gambling problem. They also include a non-judgemental team of experts along with chatrooms and a gambling hotline.

BeGambleAware

BeGambleAware is an excellent choice to find out if your gambling behaviour would be considered problematic or if a friend might be in trouble with their habits. The site offers both telephone and online assistance with a hotline available from 8 AM to midnight on a daily basis.

HelpMyGamblingProblem

Help My Gambling Problem is also a good resource for problem gamblers. The company assists without any costs involved or any additional requirements. They offer a 24-hour helpline on a 365 days a year basis to ensure you always have someone to call when you are struggling with an addiction.

Don’t hesitate to contact any of the above companies, even if it’s simply to find out more about problematic gambling habits, how it could affect your life and what to be careful of.