Gambling has been a popular form of entertainment for centuries. Not only is gambling fun, there’s the added bonus of winning some cash if you get lucky. However, for this age-old pastime to remain fun and exciting, it’s important to gamble responsibly. While many players do gamble within their means, problem gambling affects a huge number of people every day, and these problems can be difficult to overcome.
TopRatedCasinos believes that it’s best to take an active approach to responsible gambling, which is why we’ve created this guide to help you. We want to help you get the most out of your online gambling experience and help you avoid the potential pitfalls of wagering at gambling sites.
Let’s take a look at how you can stay in control of your relationship with online gambling, spot the signs of problem gambling and what to do if you’re concerned about your gambling habits.
What should I consider before I start gambling?
It’s important to be mindful about your gambling habits from the beginning, as this can help you spot signs of trouble early on. Here are some factors you should think about before you start gambling online:
Choosing licensed operators
Check that an online casino or bookmaker has a valid gambling license from a governing body, such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) before you sign up. The UKGC holds licensees to high standards when it comes to customer protection and fair play protocols. This means they are required to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their customers. These operators protect their customers from betting more than they can afford to lose with loss limits, which will prevent a customer from gambling once they have lost a specified amount in a certain time period.
Decide your gambling budget
You should never bet more than you’re prepared to lose, which means it’s vital to set yourself a strict budget before you start online gambling- whether this applies to your weekly, monthly or annual spend. You can set deposit limits on gambling sites, limiting the cash you deposit into your account within a certain time frame, to help you stick to your gambling budget.
Understand why you’re gambling
It’s important that you start gambling with the best intentions. Whether you’re playing online casino games, taking a punt on your favourite sports, or betting on esports, you should be doing so for the enjoyment and thrill of the game. Entering into gambling for the sole purpose of earning money, or relying on gambling as a source of income can be problematic
How can I stay in control?
Not only is it important to make mindful decisions before you start gambling, but there are also a number of steps you can take throughout your online gambling journey to ensure that you’re betting responsibly.
Never gamble under the influence
Betting responsibly involves being aware of your betting decisions at all times. Gambling under the influence of alcohol or drugs prevents this and may cause you to place higher bets than you’d usually feel comfortable with.
Education is key
It’s important to understand the game you’re playing. Familiarise yourself with the rules, return to player and odds of your chosen game before you wager any money. Having a thorough understanding of a game before you start playing can help you avoid losing money while you’re still getting to grips with the rules and controls. TopRatedCasinos recommends playing free demos of online casino games to familiarise yourself with the rules and controls, as well as doing plenty of research into strategy and gameplay tips before you place any bets online.
Having said this, it’s vital that you’re aware of gambling tipsters that claim to have secret strategies to guarantee a win. Most casino games are down to chance, dishonest advice can encourage you to spend more money following a strategy that just won’t work. If a strategy seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Set time limits
Gambling should be a hobby, rather than an activity that takes up the majority of your time. Just as you’d set aside a certain amount of time to watch a movie or read a book, you should limit how much time you spend gambling online. In the same vein, it’s important to have other hobbies beside gambling- it shouldn’t be your only source of entertainment.
Stop when you reach your budget
While it can be tempting to try just one more spin on your favourite slot machine or play just one more hand in blackjack, you should stop gambling the moment you reach your predetermined betting budget to avoid betting more than you can afford to lose. Don’t let your winning streak tempt you – it won’t last forever! Making deposits with prepaid vouchers is a great way to keep on top of this, as you’ll only have access to the predetermined amount of money you’ve loaded onto the card.
What signs should I look out for?
The first step to overcome problem gambling is to spot the signs. This means you’ll be able to seek help and support should you suspect a problem. Keep an eye out for these signs:
Neglecting other aspects of your life
If gambling becomes your main priority— over socialising with family and friends, meeting work deadlines or looking after yourself— this could be a problem. Ask yourself how much you value its role in your life in comparison to other daily tasks- if it comes out on top and you’re arranging other aspects of your life around it, this could be a problem.
Keeping your habits secret
Do you openly discuss your gambling hobby, or are you going out of your way to hide your gambling habits from people around you because you think they’ll disapprove? Think about why you’re keeping it a secret- is it because you already know there’s something wrong?
Gambling to earn money
Are you becoming reliant on gambling as a source of income, or are you finding yourself betting higher stakes to get the same thrill from gambling? Money should never be the main reason you gamble, but rather an added bonus.
Borrowing money to gamble
If you can’t afford to gamble, you shouldn’t. If you’re having to sell possessions, or borrow money to pay for bills, in order to sustain your gambling habit, you shouldn’t be gambling.
Gambling as your only source of happiness
Do you feel content and satisfied in other areas of your life, and could you feel happy if you were to take some time off from gambling? Are you gambling to make you feel better when you’re upset or angry? It’s important to have other hobbies and sources of happiness besides gambling.
Constantly thinking about gambling
Are you able to focus on other tasks when you aren’t gambling, or does it occupy your thoughts all the time? If you find yourself thinking about gambling more than anything else, this could be a problem.
What can I do to combat problem gambling?
If you’re concerned that any of the above apply to you, or if you believe you have a gambling problem for any other reason, there are a number of steps you can take.
All UKGC licensed casinos and bookmakers offer self-exclusion services. This means, in one single request, you can ask an operator to be excluded for a specified amount of time- your account will be closed and your balance returned to you. The minimum time for self-exclusion is six months and the maximum is usually five years, though some gambling sites have the option to self-exclude permanently. When you self-exclude, you won’t be able to access your account before the time limit is up. You can either self-exclude from individual gambling sites, or through the GAMSTOP national self-exclusion scheme. By registering with GAMSTOP, you’ll be self-excluded from all gambling sites that have signed up to the scheme. Many sites have already signed up, and all UK licensees will be required to join the scheme in due course.
You might not want to exclude yourself from gambling completely, but you might recognise that it would be beneficial to take some time out. Responsible and licensed casinos allow customers to set a specified amount of time in which they won’t be able to login to their account. Some operators will ask for the reason you’re taking a break, which can help them take steps to prevent these problems in the future.
Set deposit limits
Most licensed gambling operators offer customers the chance to set limits on how much they deposit into their online account over a specified amount of time. This limit should always be in line with your predetermined budget and should never be more than you can afford, or are prepared, to lose.
Use loss limits
Just as operators offer deposit limits , gamblers can also set loss limits on their account, which prevents you losing a specified sum of money in a certain amount of time- be it a day, month or year. For example, if you set a loss limit of £200 on 31st July, your losses will be tracked and you won’t be able to lose any more than this until 31st August, when the limit will restart.
Unsubscribe from promotional offers
Do you find it hard to avoid the temptation of gambling offers and promotions? Unsubscribe yourself from notifications of these offers- if you don’t know about them, you won’t be tempted into blowing your gambling budget on taking advantage of deals before they expire.
Contact customer support
If you’re unsure of the best way to act, or if you need guidance when it comes any of these self-control tools, don’t hesitate to contact the customer support team at your gambling operator. Many sites have a live chat service, so you can access support round the clock, without needing to speak to anyone over the phone.
How can I seek help?
There are plenty of organisations with trained advisors offering free confidential support to people who think they may have a gambling problem. Don’t hesitate to get in touch the moment you suspect there may be a problem.
GamCare operate the National Gambling Helpline, and offer gambling support via telephone, online chat , online forum or by text from 8am until midnight 7 days a week. You’ll even be able to use their self-assessment tool to determine the extent of your problem. GamCare also has a network of treatment providers to help offer face-to-face counselling sessions. Families and friends of people experiencing gambling problems can also access support and advice from GamCare.
Call GamCare HelpLine : 0808 8020 133
BeGambleAware , funded by the charity GambleAware, offers a range of support on their website, providing information on how to spot the signs of problem gambling and the steps you can take to tackle a gambling problem. BeGambleAware can also advise you where you might seek help for your gambling problems, as well as any other problems that might have caused or stem from your problem gambling.
Gamblers Anonymous is a support group of men and women working together to tackle their gambling problems. Their site offers a range of literature on how to tackle gambling problems, as well as anonymous forums and chat rooms in which you can support one another. You’ll also be able to find information about your nearest Gamblers Anonymous meeting on the site.
Protecting underage users
UK gambling laws stipulate that you must be over 18 to start gambling- with the exception of lottery, where players must be 16. This means it’s important to protect underage users from gambling. There are a number of steps you can put in place to do this.
- Use computer software to block gambling sites from your children’s computer. The Internet Matters website provides reliable information on how to protect your children from these sites.
- Use separate password-protected computer profiles for yourself and your children
- Never leave your device unattended when you are logged into your online gambling account
- Use guidance from the BigDeal website to understand how to educate your children on the potential dangers of gambling and advice on how you can protect them from these dangers.
Whether you’re gambling online or at bricks-and-mortar casinos and bookmakers, it’s important that you’re gambling responsibly . Don’t hesitate to seek help if you believe that you, or someone you know, is suffering from a gambling problem. The best time to act is now.
Organisations we actively support
BeGambleAware.org provides free advice and support on how gambling works, how to know whether you or somebody you know may have a gambling problem, and how you can stay in control. We actively support BeGambleAware.org through an annual financial contribution.
Responsible Gambling Week is a cross-industry initiative to promote responsible gambling in the UK and Ireland. The most recent campaign ran from 1st-7th November 2018. It’s a fantastic time to raise awareness of the issues relating to problem gambling, and to educate both gamblers non-gamblers about how to play safely.