Gambling can be an excellent escape for people experiencing stressful changes in their lives or looking to forget about life’s worries. For others, it is a great way to overcome loneliness and craving for good old companionship.
At its core, gambling entails winning money. The monetary incentive of gambling is one of the primary motivators for most gamblers. Unfortunately, winning is not guaranteed, whether in an online or brick-and-mortar casino. And when an individual incurs a big loss, they may be tempted to chase the losses by gambling even more, ultimately triggering the compulsive gambling behavior.
We are going to go behind the curtains to define the responsible gaming concept, what it entails, and how casinos are trying to entrench the responsible gaming concept among players.
What is Responsible Gambling?
The concept of responsible gambling is pegged on indulging in gambling for fun and entertainment purposes only. Gambling can become a problem when patrons gamble with more resources than they can afford to spend or even try to position it as a source of income. As such, responsible gambling programs are awareness programs implemented by gambling operators to their entire customer base to prevent irresponsible gambling behaviors.
Both casino operators and software suppliers are required to comply with all the principles of responsible gaming. Along with that, software suppliers need to support casino operators to comply with legislative and technical demands depending on the markets they operate in. some of the most important responsible gambling areas include:
- Protection of vulnerable punters
- Underage gambling protection
- Criminal activities protection
- Online payment protection
- Information privacy
- A safe and secure gambling environment
- Responsible and ethical marketing
Different countries and geographical locations have different Responsible Gambling protocols. Here are some of the most popular ones;
Australia. In most Australian states, there is a betting limit on slot machines, which cuts across land-based casinos, pubs, and clubs.
The United Kingdom. In the UK, the government has imposed a bet limit of $100 on Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). FOBT machines are a staple in betting shops across the country, allowing punters to enjoy digital table games and slots.
Sweden. Recently, the Swedish gambling market embraced the much-hyped concept of “duty of care” or “Omsorgsstønad” in Swedish. Basically, this concept requires gambling companies to actively alert punters when their gambling pattern is deemed to be risky, as well as offer information on available help and where it can be found.
Canada. In Canada, The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) offers an accreditation program, which helps casinos gain deep insights and feedback on helpful ways to help struggling punters. Along with that, they also help gamblers understand the inherent risk of gambling, assess their gambling habits, recognize the signs of risky behavior, and give tips on how to overcome irresponsible gambling.
South Africa. In South Africa, The National Gambling Act of 2004 stipulates that minors and other vulnerable persons be protected against the adverse effects of gambling. In line with this, the government has rolled out a broad-based public education program, which educates the public about the risks and socio-economic impact of gambling. Also known as Taking Risks Wisely (TRW), the program is part of the life skills orientation syllabus in school, and it is largely appreciated by the participating teachers and students.
Responsible Gambling at Online Casinos
With the growing popularity of online gambling today, it is important for all stakeholders to adhere to responsible gambling. As such, pinpointing behaviors for irresponsible gambling can be two-folded; personal and casino operator-level.
As a player, it is important to observe behaviors for responsible gambling, whether you are playing at online gambling websites or land-based casinos. And although most online casinos have irresponsible betting indicators, self-regulation can be hard considering most people bet in seclusion in the comfort of their homes. As such, you should put in place deterrent measures that prevent you from going overboard with your gambling. This may include setting a daily betting limit, having bet-free days, unsubscribing from casino newsletters, and even having a betting accountability partner.
Parents can also take advantage of multiple parental control software to keep children from gambling.
Online casinos have invested billions into innovative technologies, making it easier to monitor gamblers and detect gambling problem behaviors. Once they’ve detected gambling problems in a specific player, they’re required to use a myriad of responsible gambling tools to help them.
Depending on the country of jurisdiction or registration, these responsible gambling tools can be enforced differently, and they range from self-assessments, self-exclusion, and gambling limits.
The most commonly available responsible gambling tools by online casinos include but are not limited to the following:
- Betting limits – This restricts the amount of money you can wager in a casino.
- Session limits – This restricts the amount of time spent gambling in an online casino.
- Loss limits – Limits the amount of overall financial loss within a stipulated period.
- Deposit Limits – Limits the amount of money you are allowed to deposit in your gaming account.
- Self-exclusion – Let’s you temporarily or permanently halt your gambling account.
All gambling limits are set at a predetermined interval i.e daily, weekly, or monthly. Once this period elapses, the limit is reset automatically. Most online casinos allow you to lower the betting limit arbitrarily, but an increase in the limit needs to wait for the prevailing period to lapse.
How to Set a Gambling Limit
Some of the leading online casinos are equipped with the best safe-play tools that players can access straight from the personal account or profile section. Whilst different casinos have different modes of operation, setting a gambling limit takes an almost similar path.
- Start by determining the amount you are willing to lose without hurting your finances i.e $50
- On the first day of the week, which is Monday, set your weekly betting limit of $50.
- By Friday, you’ll have deposited $50 in total.
- You aren’t allowed to deposit more than $50 until the following Monday, 14:01.
How To Know You Have a Gambling Problem
Multiple studies have shown that gambling can stimulate your brain’s reward system just like alcohol and drugs, ultimately leading to addiction. Sometimes, compulsive gamblers find themselves continually chasing lost bets, leading to even bigger losses. And since online gambling is as easy as opening an app on your smartphone, it can be hard to tell whether you or your relatives have a gambling problem.
In this section, we are going to look at the telltale signs that you are addicted to gambling;
- Gambling more than you can afford – One of the biggest signs that you have a gambling problem is betting more than initially planned in an attempt to recover your losses.
- Preoccupied with gambling – Another telltale sign that you have a gambling problem is spending more time on gambling than you had initially planned. You’re constantly thinking about the next bet or odds and look forward to receiving your next paycheck to make a bet.
- Lying about your gambling habits – If your compulsion and obsession to bet is so strong that you’ll cover up where you are or where your money went, you have a gambling problem.
- Withdrawal from social life – Just like alcohol or drug addiction, gambling addiction can negatively affect your social life. If you’d rather spend your time gambling than with your family, chances are you are addicted to gambling.
- Gambling into debts – Constantly borrowing money from family, friends, or lenders to bet, you need professional help as this could be a sign of gambling addiction.
- Resorting to fraud and theft to fund your gambling habit.
If you are exhibiting any of these signs, we strongly suggest that you take advantage of your casino’s gambling limits or try reaching out to any of the organizations listed further down this article.
For players with gambling problems, online casinos do have self-exclusion. As the name suggests, it entails the player banning themselves from gambling, and the time limit for self-exclusion typically runs for one year, five years, or even forever.
In the state of New Jersey, for example, a person with a gambling problem but not ready to file for a self-exclusion can file for a suspension of credit privileges at the Division of Gaming Enforcement’s office. This helps limit gambling via credit, ultimately preventing the individual from accumulating more debt.
Heavily regulated countries, such as the UK and Sweden have created a database that all the licensed casinos in these countries are legally obliged to connect to. Using this database, a player can file for self-exclusion from all the casinos licensed within the country in a single request.
In Australia, players can self-exclude directly on the online gambling platforms, as well as through The Australian Hotels Association and Community Clubs Victoria program – all without signing two deeds.
The result of self-exclusion services includes removal from the casino’s marketing lists, and forfeiture of winnings and current chip if caught sneaking back while the self-exclusion is still in effect. Land-based casinos, on the other hand, may require a photo and a physical description of the self-excluded person.
Lastly, when a player requests a permanent self-exclusion, the casino is required to direct them to an organization that can offer professional help.
Seeking Professional Help
If you think you have or are developing a gambling problem, it is important to seek professional help.
Below, we have compiled a list of organizations in different parts of the world that have been helping players deal with or recover from gambling addiction.
If you are an Australian punter living with a gambling addiction, there are multiple Australian organizations offering help. Here are some of the most prominent ones;
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is a statutory authority created by the Victorian Parliament to address the negative effects of gambling in Victoria. The foundation partners with multiple organizations in Victoria to inform the public about the potential harms and negative effects of gambling, as well as offer professional help to players who need it via chat, telephone, and face-to-face counseling.
Contact: 14–20 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne, Victoria 305
Email: [email protected]
Gambler’s Helpline: 1800 858 858
Gambler’s Help Youthline: 1800 262 376
Gambling Help Online
Gambling Help Online is yet another 24/7 online portal in Australia, and it helps provide information and counseling to players suffering from gambling addiction but who can’t attend face-to face-counseling sessions.
The site curates and offers helpful information on responsible gambling practices, helpful self-assessment tools, and even gambling calculators to help players analyze their gambling habits. Along with that, Gambling Help Online offers online counseling support via SMS, chat, and email.
The Australiasian Gaming Council
Founded in 2002 as a stakeholder of the Australiasia gambling industry, The Australasian Gaming Council (AGC) is a handy online portal that helps players recover from gambling addiction. On the site, you’ll find self-assessment tools, gambling calculators, and useful FAQs. You will also benefit from the peer-to-peer support, face-to-face counseling, and chat support options offered on the platform.
Contact: GPO Box 99, Melbourne, Victoria Australia 3001
Call: 1800 858 858
Centacare Gambling Help W.A
Gambling Help W.A. is a free counseling service run by Centrecare, a non-profit Catholic community organization. It helps individuals, couples, or groups of people affected by problem gambling, as well as teach ways to manage the behavior.
The group program runs for 10 weeks, which provides the participants an opportunity for personal development, and gives insights into their gambling behavior through structured exercises.
Call Bunbury office: (08) 9721 5177
Call Perth metropolitan office: (08) 9325 6644
Gambler’s Help is a conglomeration of community organizations across Victoria, and it is geared towards offering bespoke support services for Aboriginal communities and linguistically diverse communities.
Here, you can get around-the-clock telephone consultations, chat support, and face-to-face counseling.
Gambler’s Helpline: 1800 858 858
Gambler’s Help Youthline:1800 262 376
Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF) Services
Problem Gambling Foundation of NZ offers Free, professional, confidential, and culturally appropriate counseling for people and families negatively affected by gambling. The organization also assists with self-exclusion, education, and training on screening and identifying harmful gambling tendencies. The organization’s counselors are available through live chat, phone, and email between 8:30 to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Toll-Free: 0800 664 262
Free text: 5819
Email: [email protected]
The Ministry of Health
As part of its mandate, The New Zealand Ministry of Health has come up with a range of intervention services to help gambling addicts and all the negative effects associated with it. The Ministry’s intervention program is based on a multi-pronged approach, comprising a myriad of services including:
- Helpline services
- Information services
- Brief interventions
- Full interventions
- Facilitation services
- Follow-up services
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 0800 855 066
The United Kingdom
This independent charity commissioning organization offers prevention and treatment services for people with gambling problems across England, Scotland, and Wales. Thanks to its partnership with multiple expert organizations and agencies such as the NHS, BeGambleAware has one of the widest footprints in the UK. On the website, you’ll find information and helpful advice on the different aspects of responsible gambling. Along with that you can contact the organization via free phone and live chat during working hours throughout the day.
Freephone: 0808 8020 133
GamCare is a leading information, advice, and support service provider for people affected by gambling addiction in the UK. The organization runs the National Gambling Helpline, creates awareness about safe gambling practices, and offers treatment for gambling addicts. Better yet, The website features several self-help tools, helpful information touching on safe gambling practices, and a connection to professional counselors.
Call: 0808 8020 133
This nationwide, independent organization is a consortium of doctors, scientists, psychotherapists, lawyers, and addiction therapists. Over the years, it has been at the forefront of combating the negative effects of gambling in partnership with different rehabilitation centers and self-help groups across Germany.
The site also offers helpful information on responsible gambling, as well as offering online help via live chat and toll-free phone.
Autorité Nationale Des Jeux (ANJ)
France has one of the largest and most vibrant gambling industries in Europe. And to counter the negative effects of gambling is the ANJ. This independent authority reports directly to the French Parliament, and it is tasked with overseeing and regulating the responsible gambling policies of both online gambling sites and land-based casinos.
On the ANJ website, you’ll find responsible gambling information, request for self-exclusion, and get connected to professional counselors.
Contact: National Gaming Authority, 99-101 rue Leblanc, 75015 Paris France
Call: +33 1 57 13 13 00
National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)
Established in 1972, The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) whips state and national stakeholders toward developing comprehensive policies and programs for gambling addiction recovery. Thanks to the multiple partnerships with different stakeholders, the organization has been able to ramp up awareness of gambling harm through various campaigns, train addicts, and distribute educational material.
But that’s not the best part. The NCPG runs several treatment facilities, a huge directory of counselors, and screening on its website, making it the largest organization of its kind in the US.
Responsible Gambling Council (RGC)
The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is a non-profit independent organization that has been operating for 35 years in Canada. The organization has been at the forefront of preventing problem gambling by raising awareness of the risks associated with compulsive gambling, helping punters make informed choices, and connecting gambling addicts with community support.
On the website, you can find contact details for multiple helplines and counselors spread across the country.
Contact: 411 Richmond Street East, Suite 205, Toronto, Canada.
Phone: +1 (416) 499-9800
Fax: +1 (416–499-8260)
The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARGF) offers a treatment and counseling program for people with gambling problems. Their services are available 24/7 and they are free of charge.
Contact: Sunnyside Office Park Sentinel House, 2nd floor, 32 Princess of Wales, Parktown, Johannesburg.
Call: +27 11 026 7323
Call: +27 21 674 5830
The Responsible Gaming Federation of Kenya is an independent organization comprising 3 organizations working jointly to prevent gambling-related harm in the country. The organization utilizes a 3-dimensional approach touching on prevention, treatment, and education of gambling-related problems.
Contact: Watermark Business Park, Ndege Road, Karen.
Call: + 254 780 688 550
Email: [email protected]