Everyone likes a slice of cake or a glass of wine now and then. Doctors say it’s perfectly fine. A glass of wine can actually improve your health.
The problems – obesity, diabetes, alcoholism – are a consequence of overindulgence.
Gambling is just the same. As long as you gamble responsibly, it is safe to enjoy the thrill and anticipation. The problems – they are many and they are serious – arise when your gambling is out of control.
According to the World Health Organization, these are the signs you should watch for:
- Diminished control over the frequency, intensity, duration, and other aspects of your gambling experience
- Gambling takes precedence over your other interests and activities
- You continue gambling despite mounting losses and other consequences
According to a 2020 GambleAware survey, 2.7% of UK adults – nearly 1.4 million people – suffer from gambling problems. The number has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic as bored, homebound gamblers turn to online casinos and sportsbooks. Yet relatively few seek gambling help.
Many factors combine to make us vulnerable to compulsive and addictive gambling. Some are psychological, and some are social. Researchers think some may even be genetic.
Our goal here is to help you avoid problem gambling. We’ve collected advice on gambling safely and tips for recovering if your gambling time has come to feel less like harmless entertainment and more like feeding a compulsion. Finally, we will explore government regulations and the role of the community in preventing the negative consequences of gambling.
What Can You Do To Gamble More Safely?
To gamble responsibly, you need to be able to exercise control over your gambling activity and prevent negative effects of gambling from intruding on other areas of your life. People gamble for different reasons – excitement, fun, socializing, or the thrill of winning. The widespread availability of online gambling in the UK has made it harder for some people to say no. Still, most people manage to gamble for fun and maintain control over the urge to pursue larger and larger payoffs. This is the responsible way to enjoy gambling.
Here are some responsible gambling tips to help you avoid the high cost of problem gambling.
Think of Gambling as Paid Entertainment
Gambling is meant to be an entertaining activity like going to the movies. You spend a certain amount of money – just as you would on movie tickets and refreshments – and you enjoy the experience for a couple hours.
If you set aside $30 for an evening of gambling, it’s just the same. But many people continue to gamble in hopes of winning big money or extracting themselves from financial problems. This is when the fun stops.
Chasing big wins can create a habit that can easily evolve into gambling addiction. To gamble responsibly, you must remember that the “life-changing big win” is highly improbable, and people eager to make money by gambling are just digging an ever-deeper hole for themselves and their families.
If you want to reduce the possibility of compulsive gambling from developing, get rid of this way of thinking as soon as possible. Gambling is not a way to make money. All casino games are designed so that the house always wins, and the chances are never on the side of the player.
Manage Your Bankroll
It can be challenging to set a gambling budget and keep track of your spending when you’re in the middle of an exciting game, but you should set aside the amount you can afford and stop immediately when you hit your fixed budget.
The best online casinos can help by letting you define limits in your account settings.
- Deposit limits and loss limits set boundaries on the amount of money you can spend or lose during a defined period.
- Monthly, weekly, daily, and per-session limits help you set an upper bound on the amount of time you spend gambling.
Setting these limits can help you spend a fixed amount of time and money on gambling.
However, this still doesn’t mean you are playing responsibly. These limits only apply to the casinos where you place them. They are easily bypassed if you want to gamble more.
Set a Time Limit
People easily lose track of time when gambling. You may feel as if you’ve been playing for only half an hour or so, only to discover that it’s been two hours.
The same goes for money. We vividly remember gains and try to forget losses, and this creates a distorted picture of how much money we have lost over the years. Many people who gamble are shocked when they find out how much money they’ve spent in the pursuit of jackpots.
So one of the most important tips for gambling responsibly is this: Keep track of the time and money you spend on gambling. Remember when you started playing and always pay attention to the duration of each gaming session.
Many online casinos provide information on money lost or won during one session. But to get a complete picture of your gambling expenses, you will most likely have to track it yourself because only a small number of casinos show players the overall statistics.
Stop Chasing Losses
If you are wondering how to stay in control of gambling, make sure to avoid further gambling in hopes of winning back lost money. It’s OK to be down occasionally, even to lose your whole stake. As long as you stick to your gambling budget, you’re safe from financial problems, disappointment and distress.
Forget About Bad Luck Signs and Superstition
Do you have your pair of lucky shoes, a lucky table or a dealer? Do you stick to the same game just because previously you have won in it? The hard truth is: Being superstitious will not help you with the outcomes, and may in fact lead to losing more money due to poor choices. To practice safe gambling, set aside your rabbit’s foot and focus on the odds.
Know the Rules and Odds of the Games
Not all games are the same. The best odds in the casino are found in blackjack and poker games. Other games – we’re looking at you, slots – seem to exist just to siphon money out of your account. Surprisingly, these games are nonetheless quite popular.
Play With Money You Can Afford To Lose
Borrowing money and raiding savings accounts are red flags. If you fund your habit with credit cards, vacation savings, a scholarship fund, or loans from friends and family, you are probably headed for trouble. If you do not have money to spend, you cannot gamble safely and you should not gamble at all. Your hopes of scoring a big jackpot to repay the money you have borrowed are based on fantasy.
Forget About the Gambler’s Fallacy
The probability of a roulette ball landing on black 26 times is virtually nil – but it happened at a Monte Carlo table in 1913. Gamblers thought red was long overdue, so they kept increasing their bets on red. The ball kept hitting black despite their conviction that the next spin would land on red. As the wagers increased, so did their losses.
Be gamble aware – no outcome in any game of chance is related to what happened before it.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol When Gambling
Drugs and alcohol are often paired with gambling, but you should avoid gambling under the influence. You won’t be able to make rational decisions or maintain your money and time limits.
If you gamble under the influence of alcohol and drugs, serious problems can arise. You’ll make decisions less carefully and lose more money if your refreshments are shaken, not stirred. Safer gambling means being able to reason clearly so gambling doesn’t get out of control and you don’t lose everything.
Over time, you could develop an urge to gamble every time you have a few beers with friends. But the connection between gambling and drugs or alcohol rarely works out.
Don’t Gamble When Times Are Tough
Gambling should be a fun pastime you enjoy with people you are close to, not an escape from problems or hard times. Resist the temptation to gamble to improve your financial situation or find a way out of money difficulties.
If you’re dealing with distress and anxiety, you’ll find counseling a better solution than gambling. For gambling-related distress, you can try a gambling helpline in the UK. The National Gambling Helpline provides support to anyone affected by problem gambling in Great Britain.
If limits on time and spending prove ineffective, it may be best to stop gambling completely – or at least for a certain period. A self-exclusion option is offered by almost all online casinos. It allows you to ban yourself from playing for a period ranging from hours to years.
After you have activated the exclusion option, you will not be allowed to play until the exclusion period has expired. Some casinos may terminate self-exclusion at your request – not immediately, but after a cooling-off period. Responsible gambling guidelines include self-exclusion even though the options offered at casino websites apply only to those casinos. You can easily get around them by playing in another casino.
Products like GamBan and Bet Blocker help by restricting access to most gambling websites. They can be useful when used with other tips and strategies.
If You Suspect You Have a Gambling Problem
Whether you suffer from compulsive gambling or a more serious case of gambling addiction, you are headed down the road to lies, strained relationships, career jeopardy, and financial ruin. If you believe you are in danger of becoming addicted to gambling, put aside our gambling tips and read about these time-tested steps toward recovery.
Settle Your Gambling Debts
It is often a money crisis that forces us to admit we have a problem. Pay back the people you’ve borrowed from. Pay down your credit cards. Return money that you have taken from family members’ wallets. Picture the bright financial future you’ll enjoy without gambling.
Overcoming addiction requires the support of friends and family. Don’t be ashamed to ask for their help. Get a trusted friend or family member to take control of your credit card and online financial accounts to prevent compulsive gambling from bankrupting you. Consider gambling therapy. You can also seek professional gambling addiction help from one of the organizations listed on gambling websites.
Train Your Self-Control Muscle
Remember that even one bet can trigger a relapse. Don’t lull yourself into believing that “this time is different” and that you are out of danger. Reflect on the circumstances in which you are particularly vulnerable and try to avoid them. Strengthening your willpower has a lot to do with knowing yourself, your habits, and the mental traps you are prone to falling into.
Take Up a Hobby
When you’re avoiding excessive gambling, an unrelated hobby can be extremely helpful. Join a chess club. Take up knitting or video gaming. A hobby can be intensely rewarding – a safe substitute for the thrill of gambling.
Fill Your Time
If you typically gamble at night or on weekends, that’s the time you want to fill with another commitment. Choose an activity that involves other people. That way you will be less likely to give it up, since that would mean disappointing them as well.
Remember That Addiction Requires Treatment, Not Punishment
You’re not a bad person because you have trouble controlling your gambling. Don’t waste time blaming yourself. Many people struggle with addiction. What’s important is that you can overcome it.
Although you bear the responsibility for gambling and its consequences for yourself and your family, society bears some responsibility as well.
The owners of brick-and-mortar and online casinos deliberately make their enterprises as enticing as they can, even though a predictable percentage of patrons will fall into problem gambling and all of its consequences.
The government bears some responsibility too, as legislation has protected only minors from the potential dangers of poker sites, sportsbooks, and casinos.
And the general public proceeds as if unaware of problem gambling, or as if only morally weak people are in danger of getting caught up in compulsive wagering.
In 2005, Parliament passed a responsible gambling act that places responsibility for gambling problems in the hands of individual gamblers. But it also requires gambling businesses to provide support to problem gamblers and direct them to places where they can find support and help.
Archeologists assure us that gambling has existed as long as human civilization itself. For most of us, gambling and betting can be responsibly affirmed as a way to have fun, as a recreation or a pastime.
That’s why gambling laws exist: to protect all of us, especially the most vulnerable, from falling into compulsive or addictive gambling. To integrate positive, responsible gambling into society.
Socially responsible gambling involves gratification of the desire for gambling in a safe, legal, technologically modern environment, preventing or at least minimizing the possible harmful consequences of compulsive gambling. Players should be educated and informed about the potential harmful and social risks associated with gambling. They should have access to tools that help them maintain their health and psychological well-being while gambling for recreation.
It is important to ensure that the need to gamble is legally met so it is not satisfied in the black market. The primary task of market regulators and responsible gambling services alike is to protect citizens, public order, and public health.