What Is Responsible Gambling and Why Is It Important

Look at any advertisements on television or magazines, or have a peek at any reputable casino, and they all seem to talk about one thing - responsible gambling. What does this mean?

In short, responsible gambling is many things. It is a series of decisions that players make to ensure that they do not get into trouble when betting online. It is an array of tools provided by a casino to help you stay on the straight and narrow when gambling. Responsible gambling can also be a collection of protocols, procedures, and rules that a casino or sportsbook must adhere to, to maintain its gambling license and reputation. We will look at all these definitions in this guide.

Whether you are a regular online gambler who likes to take a advantage of exclusive bonuses and free spins at win real money casinos, there are some precautions to take.

Ultimately, we should begin with the most basic steps - the responsible gambling actions you must take to ensure that you do not end up in trouble. These involve no tools or resources - just pure common sense and a touch of will power.

To ensure that you are betting responsibly, we would urge you to do the following:

  1. Ensure that you are having fun when gambling. If you are not having fun, immediately stop playing.
  2. Stick to your limits. It is all very well to say I will not spend more than X. However, it is easy to break those rules if you feel like you are on a winning (or losing) streak. Make sure that you budget your gambling balance beforehand.
  3. Understand what it is that you are playing. Learn about highly volatile and low variance games. Understand what RTP and house edges are and how they can impact your gameplay and the way you bet.
  4. Do not expect to win. Gambling is as much about losing as winning. This is a fact of life, so make sure that you learn this lesson early. Expecting to win will often lead to frustration when you do not.
  5. Look at your actions. Are you secretive about your gambling habit? If so, there is probably a good reason. If you are not comfortable sharing your habit with others, it may be time to stop.
  6. Review your gambling history. Most leading casinos will allow you to peruse your history of bets. You can see what you have put in and what you have taken out. If it makes for troubling reading, it may be time to stop.

This sounds like a lot of work. However, the casino or sportsbook you choose to play at (providing it is a reputable one) will have tools to help you accomplish this. Let us look at those next.

Learn to Use the Tools of the Trade

While not every casino or sportsbook will carry all the following tools, the most reputable betting sites and new casinos will offer a good number of them. We strongly suggest that you explore these options and learn to use them regularly. If implemented correctly, they can become a sort of silver bullet to help you avoid falling into trouble.

They include:

  • Deposit Limits Setting deposit limits is a wise idea. You can usually do this on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Once set, you are not going to be able to deposit more than that figure. This will stop you from overspending or chasing losses.
  • Wager Caps If you want to deposit large sums but do not necessarily want to bet it all in one go, then setting a wager cap could be the way to go. They will cut you off as soon as you breach the limits. Again, these can be placed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Loss Limits Loss limits are in many ways like wager and deposit limits. Once set, they effectively stop you from playing (temporarily) when you have lost a predetermined amount of money.
  • Reality Checks A reality check does not stop you from playing, but it does whisper into your ear. When activated, these timers will inform you of how long you have been playing. If you have been involved in a lengthy session, a timely reminder that it may be time to stop will be much appreciated.
  • Timed Sessions While reality checks will not stop you from playing, timed session and gameplay limits will do. Once set, you cannot play on beyond the timeframe you have chosen until a period has passed. You decide how long your sessions and the periods in between them can last.
  • Withdrawal Locks Cancelling withdrawals is always a possibility for problem gamblers. To get around this, you should try and look for casinos that offer withdrawal locks. These will essentially lock in any withdrawals you make and make them non-reversible.
  • Opt-Outs Any casino should allow you to opt out of a promotion or bonus. By choosing to play at casinos with opt-outs, you will not be reminded of promos and bonuses and will not be tempted to deposit to claim them.
  • Cool Down Options Sometimes, you need a few hours off, or perhaps a week. Rather than close your account or lock yourself out for an extended period, a cool-down option may be just the ticket.
  • Self-Exclusion Periods Self-exclusion periods are ideal for players who want to take a more extended break without closing their account. They can range from a few weeks to months up to a year. With both these and cool-down options, you will not be able to gamble until that period is up.
  • Account Cancellation The most extreme option (but one which you may still require) is the ability to cancel your account. Virtually all casinos have this. The best of them will make the process easy and non-reversible, though.

The KYC Process

Another aspect you may wish to consider when betting online is the KYC process. The Know Your Customer process is used to prevent money laundering, as an age verification process (to prevent underage gambling) and protect against identity fraud. Most reputable casinos now demand that their players go through this process. It is as much about protecting the casino as it is about protecting the player.

A KYC process will usually last around 24 hours, and it requires you to submit documents that attest to your identity, residence, and proof of payment. You can submit documents (often via customer support but sometimes through a dedicated page) that verify that you are the player who you claim to be. Driving licenses, bank statements, identity cards and passports, as well as medical and utility bills, can all be used to clear this hurdle.

Once you have verified your betting account, there is little to no chance that an imposter can pose as you, at least not at your chosen casino or any run by the same operator. Moreover, the casino also knows that you are not engaged in underage gambling or money laundering. It is a win-win scenario for both of you.

How Licensing Authorities and Regulators Are Changing the Game

Responsible gambling has become a focal point in the online betting world in the last few years. One of the main reasons for this is that the licensing authorities and bodies are cracking down on blacklisted, rogue, and wayward casinos. Bodies such as the renowned UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority are renowned for being super strict regarding regulation and responsible gambling. Any casino which does not fit their lofty requirements could end up losing their license.

Licensing authorities and regulators have pushed responsible gambling to the forefront in a number of ways:

  • Ensuring that tools are offered MGA and UKGC licensed casinos are now required to provide many of the responsible gambling tools we listed above. Failing to do so will see sites lose their license.
  • Limitations on promos and bonuses Licensing authorities are eager to stop people from being encouraged to gamble. Casinos are now often hindered in terms of the types of promotions they can provide and how they advertise them. The terms and conditions commonly offered (such as wagering requirements) have become a lot more transparent and fairer. Casinos are not typically allowed to flood you with promos as this encourages gambling. That does not mean to say that you cannot pocket promos and bonus deals via e-mail, though.
  • More secure banking options Credit card deposits are now banned in the UK, and other licensing bodies have their own requirements about which payment options are accepted and when. Licensing authorities seem to be on a drive to stop players from using credit to fund their gambling habits. By doing so, you can only deposit what you physically have, avoiding debt and lessening problem gambling to a degree.
  • Max Wager Caps Licensing authorities have also implemented maximum wager caps on some games. While more prevalent in the land-based betting world, such as with FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals), these ensure that you cannot wager vast sums on a single spin on a slot and such.
  • Auto-Spin Controls Another area that licensing authorities have tried to enforce responsible gambling is to stop players from speed playing. By banning auto spins and the ability to “stop” the reels from spinning, players are forced to take their time between each bet.

These measures, coupled with the responsible gambling tools listed above, appear to be making a difference in reducing problem gambling.

Start by Choosing the Safest Casinos

As well as using the tools listed above, you can also do yourself a solid by staying away from dodgy casinos in the first place. Avoiding blacklisted (sites whose practices are not up to scratch) and rogue (unlicensed casinos) is easy to do. Online casino reviews are usually an excellent place to start if you want to learn whether a casino is safe.

You can look for the licensing information, regulatory details, certifications, and security options a casino has before you sign up to play there. By only placing with the best sites that offer responsible gambling tools, you can cut down the risk of falling into the bear trap even further.

Self-Assessing Your Gambling Habits

Sometimes you can do all the right things but still end up in trouble. Every player is different and may assess whether they have a problem gambling differently from others. However, the hallmark and tell-tale signs are usually the same. Most casinos will provide you with a series of tools to self-assess yourself. You do not have to take their word on it, though. Here are some questions you can ask. If you find that the answer to most of them is “yes”, it may be time to seek help or stop playing.

  1. Are you secretive about when and how you gamble?
  2. Are you borrowing money from friends and family to fund your account?
  3. Are your bills going unpaid?
  4. Have you made cutbacks elsewhere to deposit at casinos?
  5. Do you get frustrated when you fail to win?
  6. Are you making multiple deposits, one after the other?
  7. Do you find yourself chasing losses in a bid to “win back” what you have lost?
  8. Do you brag about what you have won when you have not won very much?
  9. Do you feel in control?

You must be honest and truthful. The answers to these questions could go on to help you out of a hole.

If in Need - Help Is Available

What if you are already in trouble? Fortunately, it is not too late. The first thing you need to do is assess how severe your problem is. If it has the “potential” to become one, we will strongly suggest setting up the responsible gambling tools listed above and then taking a hiatus for a few weeks or months to clear your head.

If you find yourself in deeper trouble, it is time to use the problem gambling programs affiliated with all top casinos. You can head to their websites via links at the casinos and sign yourself up for their programs. Once activated, you will be blocked from all gambling sites which are part of that program (not just your own) for six months or several years.

FAQs

FAQ

Which problem gambling programs are the most common?

GamStop, GamCare, BeGambleAware and Gamblers Anonymous tend to be the most common and effective problem gambling programs.

Should I join a problem gambling program?

If you choose to do this, there is a chance that casinos will not allow you back even after your isolation is over. Therefore, you should join these programs if you want to quit all (well, most) casinos for good. Otherwise, responsible gambling tools such as self-exclusion periods should work fine.

How can I find out which responsible gambling tools my site offers?

At the bottom of most casinos, there will be a link to the responsible gambling tools page. There you can find out what tools your casino offers and how to use them.

Can I discuss responsible gambling options with customer support?

Yes. A casino’s customer support team is there to assist you with this. If you are already experiencing problem gambling issues, you may wish to seek professional help from the programs listed above, though.

Can I alter my limits once I set them?

That varies from site to site. Some have a degree of flexibility in this, but most are clear when they say that once you set your limits, you are not going to be able to change them, at least not without an excellent reason.

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John Holmes Written by John Holmes