Responsible Gambling

Online casinos obviously want you to come and gamble at their sites. However, everyone wants to you gamble in a responsible way that will not risk your health, your finances and your relationships. All online casinos that are licensed and regulated will offer solid information about how to identify problem gambling habits and link to resources of where to get help if you feel your gambling has spiralled out of control.

We address these issues here and suggest ways that you can stop problem gambling before it even starts.

What Is Responsible Gambling?

Responsible gambling is the set of social responsibility initiatives by the gambling industry, that includes governments, operators and players, to ensure the integrity and fairness of the activity and to promote awareness of harms associated with gambling, such as gambling addiction and underage gambling.

In this article we will cover the following issues:

  1. As a player, we will guide you how to take control over your gambling habits. We will also make you aware of the pitfalls that you could encounter and advise you how to avoid them.
  2. All the online casinos that we recommend follow responsible gambling practices so as to provide a safe, secure and transparent platform where you can enjoy the games. They also provide the right tools for you to gamble responsibly and we will show you how to derive maximum benefit from those.

How to Gamble Responsibly

We start with some basic tips that highlight the mind set you need to have so that you can gamble responsibly.

  • Gambling should not be a source of income: It is a well-established fact that a gambler cannot keep winning for ever. The odds offered at casinos marginally favour the house. Therefore, do not depend on casino gambling (where you play against the house) for putting bread on the table.
  • Gambling should be fun: Treat gambling as a form of entertainment just like going to the movies or having a drink with friends. If you win then it is bonus.
  • Plan your gambling budget: Based on your disposable income and desired savings, allocate a monthly or weekly amount for gambling. Also set aside a fixed time for gambling, making sure that you are not cutting into your social life. Once the amount and time are worked out, treat them as inviolable, come what may.
  • Understand the rules: Learn the rules and strategies of the casino games, especially where some skill is involved like in blackjack and video poker. Making incorrect moves in these games will lead to very poor returns and possible frustration as well. It is equally important to be absolutely clear about the conditions of the bonuses that you want to redeem.
  • Stay sober: The injunction “don’t drink and drive” applies to gambling as well. You need to be sober at all times and be aware of how much you are spending.
  • Gambling is not a cure-all for personal problems: Do not gamble to avoid coming to terms with anger, depression, loneliness and the like. Those problems will not get cured this way and you may land up with newer ones.

Gambling Is an Adult Activity

One of the most irresponsible things you can do is attempt to gamble without having achieved the age of majority. In online gambling there could be two benchmarks involved. One is the age specified by the online casino, which is usually 18 years. Some countries specify a higher age, even 21 years. If you are a resident of such a country, then you have to cross that age as well.

If you have minors at home then it becomes your responsibility to make sure they cannot gamble using your account. You must log out every time you end the session, keep your passwords out of children’s reach and install apps like Net Nanny to prevent children from accessing gambling sites.

Age Verification at Online Gambling Sites

Age Verification at Online Gambling Sites

In the United Kingdom, all gambling operators are licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission. One of the requirements of the Gambling Commission is that online operators verify the age of the applicant before activating the account. This is to prevent underage people from playing at the site.

Online casinos will not accept at face value the date of birth and you will have to provide the age verification documents asked for. These could include passport or driving license. The online casino could use external databases to further make sure that you have not submitted bogus documents. As a responsible gambler it is your obligation to furnish correct details and authentic documents. If at any time the online casino discovers that you have lied about your age, or other particulars, it has every right to close your account and even refuse to pay you your winnings.

Responsible Gambling Facilities at Online Casinos

This is perhaps the most important section of the article. Online casinos are required by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission regulations to offer certain facilities that engender responsible gambling behaviour. These work by limiting the funds you spend at online casinos and also the time you spend there. You are not bound by the gambling sites to take advantage of these tools, but we urge you to do so. In this section we take you through the tools, outlining their advantages and telling you how to use them.

Setting the Session Time

Setting the Session Time:

All UK online casinos display a clock that shows how long you have been gambling. It is likely that you may not heed the clock if you are engrossed with your slot machines or other games. One of the responsible gambling facilities allows you to set the session’s time. When that period is over, a pop-up message will tell you how long you have been playing and give you the option of logging out or continue playing. It is important that you get into the habit of logging out and terminating your session when you receive this reminder.

Online casinos will not accept at face value the date of birth and you will have to provide the age verification documents asked for. These could include passport or driving license. The online casino could use external databases to further make sure that you have not submitted bogus documents. As a responsible gambler it is your obligation to furnish correct details and authentic documents. If at any time the online casino discovers that you have lied about your age, or other particulars, it has every right to close your account and even refuse to pay you your winnings.

Setting deposit or spending limits

Setting deposit or spending limits:

Having control on the amount that you deposit is even more important. Many online casinos impose maximum limits on deposits, but these are usually too generous. Their responsible gambling protocols allow you to set daily, weekly or monthly limits on how much you want to deposit. Once the limit is set then the casino will not accept deposits greater than it, because it would risk losing its operating licence. The limit can be increased, but the process is time consuming and cumbersome. You would have planned a gambling budget as indicated earlier and your set deposit limit should conform to that.

Some online gambling sites will allow you to set a limit on the amount you wager instead of the amount you deposit, but ultimately the objective and result is the same.

Self-exclusion

Self-exclusion

This is a severer responsible gambling tool that you will need to look at if you feel that you are unable to control the time or amount spent on gambling. There are two self-exclusion options.

  • Temporary self-exclusion is for those players who believe that they are on the verge of gambling too much and need to take time off from the activity. In this case, you can activate the temporary self-exclusion facility and ask the casino to prevent you from playing for a specified period. This could be as short as 24 hours or as long as a few months, depending on your needs. You will not be allowed to log in before the end of the chosen period under any circumstances.
  • Permanent self-exclusion is the more drastic step that you should take when you realise that you will not be able to overcome your gambling addiction without professional assistance. Once you activate this, the online casino will block you from playing on its platform permanently.

Whichever option you choose, make sure that you activate it at all the gambling sites that you are registered at. If you leave even one exit open then the exercise will be wasted.

Other Responsible Gambling Steps Taken by Online Casinos

UK online casinos are required to take certain other steps as a part of their licencing conditions. The Gambling Commission is known to impose exemplary fines on defaulting gambling sites. This not only acts as a deterrent, but also gives players a lot of confidence that the watch dog is doing its job well.

  • Monitoring Betting Patterns: Online casinos are required to be able to identify when players’ betting patterns suddenly change – when the amount bet increases or when individual bets become very large. Trained employees have to contact such players, caution them against large betting and impose limits if required. This has to be done in a transparent way.
  • Checking against Money Laundering: Gambling sites can be used to launder funds obtained through criminal activities and even to fund terrorism. Operators are expected to use available software programs that detect this and report the matter to the law enforcing agencies.
  • Protecting Player Privacy: Casinos store players’ names, addresses and even more sensitive information like bank and credit card details. They are required to secure this against hacking using the latest available technology.
  • Online Payment Protection: Making deposits and receiving winnings through Internet transactions is integral to online gambling. These are secured against third party interception using the most sophisticated encryption protocols available.
  • Responsible Marketing Policies: This aspect is always on the radar of the Gambling Commission and a large number of violations happen here. Online casinos are required to follow advertising codes of practice that do not target vulnerable or underage players. Casinos cannot send promotional information to players that have not subscribed to this service. Bonus offers must be complete and absolutely clear.

How to Recognise Gambling Addiction

Earlier, we had said that certain responsible gambling steps depended on whether you felt that you were on the verge of gambling addiction. You do not have to go by vague gut feeling. Online casinos and agencies that treat gambling addiction offer a self-assessment test, which makes realistic identification of the malaise.

We reproduce the one used by Gambling Therapy, which is an organisation registered in England. If you answer yes to three or more of the following questions then you should immediately seek professional help.

  1. Do you spend too much money and/or time gambling?
  2. Have you gambled away money needed to pay household bills?
  3. Have you risked or lost a relationship because of your gambling?
  4. Have you risked or lost your home or job because of your gambling?
  5. Do you struggle to sleep because of your problems with gambling?
  6. Do you gamble to try to win back losses?
  7. Do you lie about how much you gamble?

Treatment of Problem Gambling

It is now established beyond doubt that problem gambling (or gambling addiction) is a medical disorder and not a result of social upbringing. GambleAware has estimated that 2.7% of the adults in Great Britain suffer from it. However, there is no taboo associated with problem gambling and you should not hesitate in seeking treatment.

Once you start gambling, you should take a self-assessment test regularly. If the test indicates that you have a gambling problem, immediately self-exclude from all online gambling sites, inform your spouse or close family member and contact a professional organisation.

There are several levels of treatment available, and the professional will help in identifying which one you should go for. Some of these treatments offer complete anonymity and are recommended if you have reservations in going public about your problem.

  • Online or telephonic individual consultation
  • Online group therapy
  • Face to face consultation
  • Live group therapy
  • Rehab, for the extreme cases

We end with a list of reputed problem gambling treatment organisations in the United Kingdom.

  • Gamblers Anonymous: gamblersanonymous.org.uk; 0330-094-0322
  • Gambling Therapy: gamblingtherapy.org;
  • GamCare: gamcare.org.uk; 0808-8020-133
  • GambleAware: gambleaware.co.uk;

A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed

It is a known fact that many players refuse to accept that they have a problem, do not go for any treatment and keep pushing themselves further into the quicksand of gambling addiction. If you have a family member or friend that likes to gamble, you must be prepared to take matters in your hand.

Keep checking his behaviour against a self-assessment test and if you find any signs of problem gambling, then cajole and convince him to go for treatment. Remember, they need your sympathy and not your condemnation.

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