“Responsible gambling” is a phrase that, thankfully, is being used more and more often with modern gambling operators.
Whether it’s on the footers of gambling site homepages or on television adverts, responsible gambling is both a wise sentiment to live by and legally enforceable.
So what exactly do we mean by “responsible gambling”? Responsible gambling is a principle that we can apply to both the time and money we spend gambling.
We can enforce responsible gambling both through our own personal habits and with the help of gambling operators.
All reputable gambling operators will adhere to a “responsible gambling” policy whereby they will actively encourage players to behave sensibly with their time and money.
If there is one good adage to live by for responsible gambling, it’s to only bet what you can afford to lose. Unfortunately, some players may fall into the trap of “chasing”, particularly if they started out successfully and then began losing money.
To avoid “chasing” – that is, trying to bet even more and perhaps more aggressively to try and recoup your winnings, it is best to have a self-imposed limit of how much money you intend to spend gambling.
You can apply this to that particular session, or within a specific timeframe e.g. a certain amount of spending per day or week.
If you think you might need an extra bit of help trying to budget your gambling spend, one scheme you can sign yourself up to is the deposit limit method.
When you set yourself up with a deposit limit, you effectively allow the gambling operator to prevent you from carrying out a pre-set action within a specific timeframe.
So, in a monetary context, you can ask the operator (e.g. app or website) to only allow you to deposit a certain amount (set by you) within a certain amount of time.
Let’s say you don’t want to spend more than £100 per week gambling. You would set up a deposit limit to stop you depositing more than £100 within that seven-day period.
This will ban you from doing so until those seven days are up – you're welcome to make as many deposits as you like within this period, as long as they do not exceed £100 in total.
This kind of limit is best for gamblers who want to put a restriction on either their money spent gambling or even time. You can also gamble responsibly with your time, as seen below.
Gambling addiction doesn't always affect just the wallet – it can have serious adverse effects when it starts to take over a person’s wellbeing, causing them to spend less time doing the things they used to do, or spending time with their loved ones.
Another popular saying we often see in gambling marketing material is “when the fun stops, stop”: this can be applied to the abovementioned “chasing” or when players simply feel too desperate not to continue.
You may not necessarily be gambling away your life savings, but if you feel you are spending too much time gambling, then you can set limits to make sure it continues to be a fun pursuit.
Again, this can be self-enforced, for example giving yourself set periods of the day to have that leisure time, or you can use a method set by your chosen gambling operator.
There are three methods that reputable gambling operators use to help encourage responsible gambling. You, the player, have to sign up to them, but they can be very effective on multiple levels.
The least “strict” level is what’s known as a reality check. When you sign up for this, you effectively ask the operator to “remind” you of just how long you have been playing – this can be as simple as a timer in an obvious position on the screen, or a reminder after a specified amount of time.
The next level up is the time-out. Just like we have mentioned with the deposit limits above, the time-out allows your gambling operator to forbid you from playing for a specific amount of time: either 24 hours, one week, one month or longer, up to a period of six weeks.
Finally, if you're really struggling to manage time, then you can ask your operator to enforce a “self-exclusion”.
This means the operator will prevent you from logging into your account for a period of six months or more (it cannot be enforced for less than this time period) and you will not receive any promotional materials.
You can either do this via your chosen operator, or enlist the help of a third party like GamStop, which is helpful because it will stop you from logging in to multiple gambling sites.
Of course, this is the most extreme option and should only be considered for “problem gamblers”, but it is extremely effective at ensuring operators make “all reasonable effort” to prevent you from logging in again.
Under the UK Gambling Commission, all gambling operators must offer provisions for responsible gambling to protect the welfare of their customers.
The Gambling Commission uses a rulebook for operators – the LCCP (licence conditions and codes of practice) to which operators must adhere in order to comply with the law and with the terms of their licensing.
There are many industry groups who work directly with gambling operators to promote responsible gambling. These include the GambleAware programme, the National Responsible Gambling Strategy and BeGambleAware.
If you're concerned about responsible gambling, remember only to bet with operators who work with these industry groups.
Look for information on their website, including responsible gambling policies, and any affiliations with these groups in the website footer.
Katie Thompson is an NCTJ-trained journalist and freelance online gaming writer. She enjoys researching the iGaming industry and writing comprehensive guides on the history of gambling, beating the dealer and even how to get bingo dauber stains out of your favourite shirt.
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