[Last Revised: October 9, 2018]
Responsible gambling, the practice of managing your betting habits and spending more than you can afford, has become a hot topic for regulators, operators and players over the last few years. In a bid to ensure betting doesn’t cause consumers harm, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has pushed its licensees to take problem gambling more seriously.
Fines for failing to protect customers have become more common since 2013, but there’s only so much the top betting sites can do. In practice, responsible gambling is a two-way street that you have to navigate as well. In this guide, we’ve not only defined the term “responsible gambling” but outlined the ways you can ensure entertainment doesn’t have a detrimental effect on your life.
Responsible gambling is the process of staying within your personal limits. Although there may be some generally accepted levels of what constitutes problem gambling, the boundaries are individual. For example, a large bet for one person may be a manageable for someone else. It all depends on your budget and bankroll. Therefore, the best way to define responsible gambling is that it’s playing in a way that doesn’t harm you financially, mentally or socially.
To help you avoid getting into difficulties, you should take note of the following responsible gambling tools and tips.
Learning to manage your money is a fundamental part of responsible gambling. Bankroll management is the concept of setting a budget based on the amount of money you can comfortably afford to lose. If you view online gaming (in whatever its form - bingo, betting or casino) as entertainment, then you will feel more comfortable and secure 'losing' a sum of money as it will be the evening (or days') entertainment, just as you spend money at a restaurant, nightclub, cinema etc.
When you request a withdrawal, you have the option to reverse/cancel the request. At some sites, you can manually flush the request which stops you from reversing the withdrawal. This, in turn, prevents you from spending what you’ve won. If you're someone who is easily tempted to reverse withdrawals it may be best to join a gaming site with a short pending period time frame and one which also offers manual flushing.
To comply with UKGC regulations, gaming sites have to offer some or all of the following self-exclusion features:
Time Out/Reality Checks: To limit the amount of time you spend online, you can set up alerts that either tell you how long you’ve been active or automatically log you out.
Account Limits: Applicable to deposits and betting options, you can restrict the size of your deposits/bets/buy-ins on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Self-Exclusion: When you feel as though you need a break, you can choose to temporarily freeze your account. Typical timeframes range from 12 hours to six months.
Account Closure: All online gaming sites must give you the option to permanently close your account. There are also options to exclude yourself from an entire network of sites and have your IP blocked.
Self-awareness is one of the first ways to address a potential problem. Although the symptoms of problem gambling will vary from person-to-person, some of the signs issues are:
Feeling a constant compulsion to gamble.
Being secretive about your betting habits.
Spending more than you can afford.
Borrowing money to fund your betting activities.
Losing sleep over your betting habits.
Signs of concern from your family and friends.
If you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect yourself from problem gambling and feel like you need more help, there are organisations you can access for free. As part of the UKGC’s licensing conditions, all sites have to provide links to one of the following agencies that offer support and counselling services:
Online gaming is as much a legitimate and fun leisure activity as any other, but its important to know and set your money and time boundaries, and know how and where to seek help if necessary