“Responsible gaming” is a term you’re sure to encounter if you’ve ever played at an online casino or watched a gambling advertisement on television. Casinos and other operators are supposed to promote responsible gaming – or rather gambling – and most of them do. While some simply pay lip service to this, adding a responsible gaming logo to their website and leaving it at that, others go further, either voluntarily or because the laws in their country oblige them to. But what does responsible gaming mean? And what measures can you take to ensure that you aren’t getting in too deep?
Responsible gaming is hard to define precisely, for it certainly can’t be described in monetary terms. What’s small change to one player may be a week’s wages to another. Regardless of wealth or income, gambling responsibly call for not spending beyond your means. In other words, don’t bet money that you can’t afford to lose. As the slogan for one British campaign runs, “When the fun stops, stop”.
Be Super Honest
Knowing when to stop, or to at least rein in your gambling, calls for being honest with yourself about the amount you are spending each week and the sort of behaviour that accompanies it. After losing, for example, do you then keep playing in an effort to claw back your losses and risk running up heavier losses in the process? Are you more prone to gambling heavily after consuming alcohol or taking drugs?
These sorts of questions apply not only to your own playing habits, but also to those of close friends or family who you believe may be at risk. Some people hold the misconception that casinos want to take punters’ money no matter what and will have no qualms about doing so. By and large, this isn’t the case. Aside from the social responsibility that casinos have, no business wants to be seen to have aided and abetted an individual losing everything they have and running up unpayable debts. That’s not good for business.
That being said, there have been concerns raised about certain types of real money games that make it extremely hard for players to resist the urge to bet heavily. Some of the auto roulette and blackjack games available in bookmakers, for example, have come in for particular criticism due to the large sums that can be wagered and won or lost in an instant. Problem gambling, of course, is not the fault of any one game or means of gambling. For a variety of societal reasons, some people are more susceptible to addictive behaviour, and may suffer from poor impulse control.
There are a number of steps that players and gambling operators alike can take to mitigate problem gambling and to limit the damage that is caused by irresponsible gaming. If you believe you are at risk of developing a gambling problem, the following steps can help mitigate your exposure to full-blown addiction:
- View gambling as a pleasurable pastime rather than a means of making money. If you’re not having fun, you probably shouldn’t be playing
- Don’t gamble with money you can’t afford to lose
- Set a maximum daily or weekly deposit limit
- Don’t gamble when you’re experiencing negative feelings such as depression or anger
- Don’t mix gambling and alcohol
- Limit the amount of time you spend gambling each day
In more extreme cases, where you’re physically struggling to stop yourself from logging in and gambling, there are more drastic measures that can be taken. Delete gambling apps from your phone and consider installing blocking software in your browser that will prevent you from visiting specific sites.
The most important thing to remember with gambling addiction is that you are not alone. Problem gamblers are encouraged to be frank about the matter with friends and family. Not only will this ease the anxiety that can be part of concealing a gambling habit, but you will feel more obligation to keep your promise not to gamble when there are friends checking up on you and willing you to make a clean break of things.
Most countries offer gambling support and counselling services. After meeting other gamblers at a help group and hearing their stories, you’ll likely be incentivised not to fall into the same trap. In some cases, it may even be necessary to seek out one-to-one counselling from a qualified expert. The important thing is knowing that there are support channels available to you, both online and offline, including telephone support, and that you should make use of these. All reputable casinos should enforce self-exclusion requests, so if you need to be locked out of your account to curtail your gambling, go ahead and make that request.
Although the vast majority of players are capable of keeping their gambling in check, treating it as an enjoyable pastime rather than a risky venture, it pays to be aware of the resources that are available to you. This will enable you to take measures to curtail your gambling at the first sign of trouble. Possessing this knowledge will also allow you to ride to the rescue of friends who may be developing a gambling habit. Casino play and sports betting should be fun and the money, when you win, should be a bonus. Maintain a balanced perspective and win, lose or break even, you’ll walk away with your bank balance as healthy as your outlook on life.