For most people, online sports betting and online gambling, in general, is a fun activity. That’s how it should be – it should never be looked at as a source of income. Unfortunately, it is seen that way for many problem gamblers, so the industry came up with the Responsible Gambling initiative.
It is a concept that aims to help punters and players in need. Compulsive gambling is a serious problem with online betting sites and casinos, especially among the youth. The industry is doing its best to subdue it, introducing the concept of responsible betting. It aims to prevent gambling addiction by allowing players to limit their time spent at the bookies or limiting their deposits.
Betting responsibly is governed by more than one foundation and council. In many cases, it is managed by governments which shows how big the problem is. If you want to bet online, you will have to act responsibly as an adult unless you want to risk gambling addiction, which can quickly destroy your life.
Gambling Addiction Causes
Gambling addiction sounds like a pretty far-fetched idea to all beginners. We see it in movies, but when you start to bet online, you’re most likely thinking, “It won’t happen to me.” The problem is that it can happen to anyone, even to the most responsible gamblers.
The thrill of winning sports bets or online casino games is too big to ignore. The reality is that we’re all thrill-seekers. Online gambling is like a drug that will suck you into its vortex if you’re not careful. Playing without a strategy is all too common these days, and that’s why many gamblers fall into the trap.
It’s not the sportsbook’s fault. Bookies these days are trying their best to get help to those in need. All sportsbooks have some responsible gambling policy that aims to prevent gambling addiction. The thrill of winning may be too big to ignore for some players who fall into the trap of the gambler’s fallacy and lose money fast.
Chasing your losses and believing a win is just around the corner because you’ve lost several times doesn’t mean you’ll win for sure. Gambling is random, and so are the results. Believing that you must win is a trap many fall into, and that’s exactly why programs such as Gamcare are here to help.
How to Gamble Responsibly
There are a few unwritten rules that will help you avoid gambling addiction’s toxic claws. Punters should stick to them to prevent gambling therapy later. If this is your first time at an online bookie and you think that you won’t fall into the trap of gambling addiction, you’re wrong. It’s easy to become addicted, especially when you win several times in a row.
Below you can see some examples of responsible gambling you should keep in mind if you want to avoid big problems.
- Never bet with money you can’t afford to lose: the most significant problem bettors have is betting with money they can’t afford to lose. Money marked for grocery supplies, rent, or any important expenses should never be placed on sports bets or casino games. That’s one of the first telling signs of problem gambling. This money should never be in your pocket to gamble with. If you can’t keep your hands away from it, you have a problem.
- Set limits: setting deposit and loss limits for yourself is the first step toward responsible gambling. It’s a must for new players and seasoned bettors too. As soon as you’re over the limit you’ve set for yourself, you should stop. Going further means spending more money, in most cases the money you can’t afford to lose.
- Never chase your losses: chasing your losses believing that you must win your next bet is a big problem. It’s a major step toward problem gambling and a sign that you need help. Responsible gambling laws use this example as one of their key points. If you can’t stop yourself from chasing your losses, you need to seek help immediately.
- Realize that gambling should be fun: it’s easy to get caught in the whirlwind of online betting as emotions get the best of us all. However, you should always keep in mind that gambling should be fun, not an income source. If you keep it that way, you won’t ever need gambling therapy.
How to Determine if You Have a Gambling Problem
Determining if you have a gambling problem is a bit hard. No gambler will ever admit to having problems – that’s part of the whole problem itself. However, some warning signs and symptoms show you’re in too deep that you should never ignore.
Gambling stimulates the brain in the same way alcohol or drugs do. If you don’t act on time, a slew of unexpected troubles can arise.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
There are many symptoms you should take note of when it comes to gambling addiction. We’ve listed the most common ones below. If you notice that you exhibit a few or all, it’s time to get help and enter gambling therapy.
- All you ever think of is gambling. You’re constantly planning how to get more money and place bets on your favorite teams;
- Small bets don’t get you excited anymore – only big money does;
- You’re feeling restless when you try to gamble less;
- You’re trying to put your losses under control, but nothing works;
- Lying to family members and friends about the extent of your losses;
- You gamble to escape problems;
- You lose your job, relationships, or work opportunities because of it.
These are all very serious signs and symptoms of gambling you should be aware of. These warning signs should never be ignored – that’s a road to Hell indeed. Instead, enter gambling therapy with a clear mind and let experts help you. Make no mistake – if you let it continue, you could be in for huge problems.
No gambler gets addicted in a day. It’s a process that can take a while, but with each passing day at a bookie or in an online casino, the addiction grows stronger. Psychologists have identified four key stages in the development of compulsive gambling.
- Winning phase: this phase begins when you hit a big win for the first time. In this case, the gambler gets super-optimistic about the chances, playing more often and risking more money. It is a non-obligatory phase of compulsive gambling. Some players don’t experience it at all, which brings us to the second stage.
- Losing phase: unlike the winning step, the losing phase is something all gamblers experience. It’s not a positive stage at all, but it is significant and pervasive. At this point, a gambler loses loads of cash which may push them into debt. It is the stage where bettors start feeling ashamed of what they’re doing, and bit by bit, they lose their relationships as well.
- Desperation phase: during this phase, gamblers are desperate as they’ve lost all control over the situation. The amount of debt is too much to handle, and they believe the only way is to play more and score a big win. Anxiety and restlessness appear, affecting the gambler’s physical health.
- Hopeless phase: the last stage of compulsive gambling is called the hopeless phase. Most addicts will look for help before hitting rock bottom, but some of them may find themselves in this stage.
Compulsive gambling is a major problem that harms both the mental and physical health of gamblers. The key is to seek help before the problem goes deeper. If you hit the hopeless phase, you most likely don’t have anything more to lose, which is why around 20% of gamblers attempt suicide at this point.
Getting Help for Problem Gambling
The key to problem gambling is preventing it in the first place with responsible gambling. However, if things have already gone south, gambling therapy can help. All players should keep in mind the responsible gambling tips we mentioned earlier. Those will help you stay within your limits and play reasonably and responsibly. Stick to them if you want to prevent the problem rather than treat it. If you’re unable to do so, programs such as BeGambleAware can help.
Before getting in touch with professionals, you should talk to your friends and family. Admitting that you have a problem is difficult but required if you want to stop. Your loved ones will provide emotional support that is one of the key factors to recovery. Tell them that you’re in too deep and that you need their help to stop. Your friends or family members can be emergency contact that you can call whenever you feel the urge to gamble.
Whenever you bet, don’t put your money down right away. Think before you bet and consider all possible outcomes. Imagine what might happen and how you’re going to feel if you lose the bet. It can help you opt out against the stake, and you’ll also give yourself time to subdue the urge to bet impulsively, placing one wager after another.
If everything else fails, there’s no shame in looking for help from experts. Seek treatment by calling professionals or get in touch with a betting site’s customer support team. Many of them offer a responsible service of gambling with plenty of information on how to get help available via customer service.
Self-help gambling resources are also available online these days. Whole communities of players suffering from gambling problems are online trying to help each other, and you can easily join these groups and share your experience with players who’ll understand.
Problem Gambling Resources
If you need help to stop gambling, you should know that you’re not alone. Many special services can help you overcome the addiction, and self-help resources you can find online. The organizations you can see below aim to protect gamblers in need and have already helped thousands cure their addiction.
BeGambleAware is a UK service that operates by the National Responsible Gambling Strategy. It helps confidentiality and support to those suffering from gambling addiction with numerous channels available around the clock to get in touch with.
GamCare is another UK-based service that is funded by online casinos, bookmakers, and game developers. Its badge is often available in the footer of UK gaming sites for easier contact. GamCare also offers a self-assessment test that will tell you if you’re addicted and if it’s time to take action.
Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous is a non-profit organization with an international network. You can easily find a meeting nearby or talk to someone on the 24/7 hotline for help.
The official website offers plenty of information if you prefer self-help resources more than meetings. Gamblers Anonymous often hosts responsible gambling week programs to help players learn more about the dangers of gambling and how to prevent addiction.
Problem Gambling Agencies by Country
- Nevada | Nevada Gaming Control Board | (702) 486-2000
- New York | NYS Gaming Commission | (518) 388-3300
- New Jersey | New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement | (609) 984-0909
- Alabama | Alabama Tribal Gaming Commission | (251) 368-1811
- Alaska | Alaska Charitable Gaming Alliance | (907) 561-4711
- Arizona | Arizona Department of Gaming | (602) 771-4263
- Arkansas | Arkansas Racing Commission | (501) 682-1467
- California | California Gambling Control Commission | (916) 263-0700
- Colorado | Colorado Division of Gaming | (303) 205-1300
- Connecticut | Connecticut Gaming Commission | (860) 713-6303
- Delaware | Delaware Gaming Enforcement | (302) 526-5850
- Florida | Florida Gaming Commission | (800) 683-7800
- Georgia | Commercial Gambling Unit | (404) 270-8491
- Hawaii | Hawaiian Homes Commission | (808) 620-9500
- Idaho | Idaho Lottery Responsible Gaming | (208) 334-2600
- Illinois | Illinois Gaming Board | (217) 524-0226
- Indiana | Indiana Gaming Commission | (317) 233-0046
- Iowa | Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission | (515) 281-7352
- Kansas | Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission | (785) 296-5800
- Kansas (Tribal) | Kansas State Gaming Agency | (785) 368-6202
- Kentucky | Department of Charitable Gaming (DCG) | (502) 573-5528
- Louisiana | Louisiana Gaming Control Board | (225) 925-1846
- Maine | Maine Gambling Control Unit | (207) 626-3900
- Maryland | State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency | (410) 260-6400
- Massachusetts | Massachusetts Gaming Commission | (617) 979.8400
- Michigan | Michigan Gaming Control Board | (313) 456-4100
- Minnesota | Minnesota Gambling Control Board | (651) 539-1900
- Mississippi | Mississippi Gaming Commission | (601) 576-3800
- Missouri | Missouri Gaming Commission | (573) 526-4080
- Montana | Montana Gambling Control Division | (406) 444-1971
- Nebraska | Nebraska Gaming Commission | (402) 471-5729
- New Hampshire | New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority | (603) 271-3391
- New Mexico | New Mexico Gaming Control Board | (505) 841-9700
- North Carolina | NC Department of Public Safety | (919) 733-2126
- North Dakota | North Dakota Charitable Gaming | (701) 328-2210
- Ohio | Ohio Casino Control Commission | (614) 387-5858
- Oklahoma | OSF Gaming Compliance Unit | (405) 522-0906
- Oklahoma (Tribe) | Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Gaming Commission | (580) 924-8112
- Oregon | Oregon Grand Ronde Gaming Commission | (877) 419-1771 or (503) 879-2362
- Pennsylvania | Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board | (717) 346-8300
- Rhode Island | Rhode Island Lottery Responsible Gaming | (401) 463-6500
- South Carolina | South Carolina Department of Revenue | (844) 898-8542
- South Dakota | South Dakota Commission on Gaming | (605) 773-3311
- Tennessee | Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming | (615) 741-2555
- Texas | Texas Lottery Commission | (512) 344-5000
- Vermont | Vermont Office of the Attorney General | (802) 828-3171
- Washington | Washington State Gambling Commission | (360) 486-3440
- West Virginia | West Virginia Lottery | (304) 558-0500
- Wisconsin | Wisconsin Division of Gaming | (608) 270-2555
- Wyoming | Northern Arapaho Gaming Commission | (307) 332-6120
- Wyoming (Lottery) | Eastern Shoshone Gaming Agency | (307) 332-3567
- Alberta Health Services | https://www.albertahealthservices.ca | 1-866-332-2322
- Connex Ontario | https://www.connexontario.ca | 1-866-531-2600
- Quebec | https://aidejeu.ca/ | 1-800-461-0140
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission | https://www.gamingcommission.ca/ |+1 450 635 1139
- Canada Safety Council | https://canadasafetycouncil.org/ | 613-739-1535
- Problem Gambling Helpline | http://www.problemgamblinghelpline.ca
How Self-Exclusion Works
Self-exclusion is a feature available in online casinos where you can ask to be self-excluded from the site for a period set by you. It’s a brilliant thing to do if you believe that your habit is becoming too big of a problem.
In most cases, you can ‘order’ self-exclusion from the Responsible Gambling page or by talking to customer support. It’s a powerful weapon in the fight against gambling addiction and should be used if you need it.
Protect Minors from Gambling
Responsible gambling programs aren’t focused on adults only. Their goal is to help players stop gambling compulsively and protect minors from gambling dangers. It is especially addictive to minors who rarely realize how serious the problem can get.
Minors under 18 are not allowed in most countries – some keep the bar higher at 21. That’s done on purpose and as part of the responsible gambling guidelines. Below that age, it’s the parents’ responsibility to explain the dangers of betting and gambling to children. They shouldn’t try any form of gambling at least until they’re 18 which is when they are considered adults who are fully responsible for their own actions.
Gambling Operators’ Responsibility
The responsibility of each gambling operator is to let users know about the dangers of gambling. They also need to take proactive steps to prevent the habit from turning into a problem. They do it with whole pages dedicated to this problem and trained customer service agents ready to step in whenever players need help.
What to Do if You Know a Problem Gambler
If you know someone who’s a problem gambler, you need to offer a helping hand. First and foremost, try talking to them, but never be judgmental about it. These people need help, and a critical tone or saying things like “just stop” won’t help.
If it were easy for anyone to stop gambling, the addiction wouldn’t exist. Instead, hear them out and recommend good, responsible gambling programs that will help them put their life back on track. As mentioned earlier, gambling can be put into the same addiction category as drugs or alcohol. You need to realize that it’s tough for these people just to quit.
Responsible Gambling Summary
While responsible gambling programs rarely existed in the past, they are here to stay now. Online gambling companies understand how big the problem is and take a proactive approach to prevent minors from gambling and adults from getting in too deep.
If you believe that you need help, you can easily find self-help resources online. Better yet, your favorite betting site should have material on its own that will show you more than a few responsible gambling tips and prevent things from taking the wrong turn. Look for the Responsible Gambling badge or certificate if you’re not sure where to start. A click on it should get you where you need to be so you can get professional help when everything else fails.