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A Guide to Responsible Gambling

Gambling can be great fun, but it needs to be managed responsibly. The key to any vice is moderation. Lots of people like to drink alcohol, but there must be limits and responsible actions involved to safely enjoy a pint or two. Gambling is exactly the same. Millions of people gamble responsibly in the UK every year, and, for them, it’s a perfectly healthy hobby. For others who cross the line into addiction, gambling can be a huge social and economic burden on their lives. This guide will tell you how to gamble responsibly, how to identify problem gambling, and what to do if addiction becomes a reality.

How to Gamble Responsibly: Our Tips

Starting to think about your own gambling habits is the first step to avoiding the downfalls. The following responsible gambling tips are the next stage of the process.

Gambling Is Not a Career

This is one of the things all responsible gamblers come to realise very quickly. OK, for a very small number of highly skilled professionals, gambling can become a legitimate career. However, for 99% of the population, gambling should not be viewed as a way to make money. Getting into this business in the hope of getting rich quickly is the fastest route to bankruptcy. Instead, gambling should be viewed as a pastime, a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few hands of blackjack of an evening, but if you are starting to play because you need money to pay your rent then stop and seek help.

Only Risk What You Can Afford to Lose

There’s a famous saying among regular casino players that anybody seen placing an enormous bet, can afford to lose it. Look past the jealousy and ‘schadenfreude’ element though, and you’ll see that there is sensible logic behind this idea. Any responsible gambler placing a large bet should, in theory, have enough personal wealth left over to survive the loss. The awe comes in not from the size of the bet, but from the size of the bankroll required to place a bet of that size. Playing with money you cannot afford to lose is a big warning sign that a gambling problem is spiralling out of control. Check out this guide to bankroll management for a more detailed breakdown.

Never Try to Recoup Losses with Bigger Bets

Leading on from only playing with disposable funds, is resisting the urge to chase your losses through extended play, or by placing bigger and bigger bets. You should realise that casino games are designed to give the house an edge. The mechanics of such a setup essentially means that whilst short-term profits are available, over longer periods of play you are virtually guaranteed to lose. Chasing losses is one of the most common traps new players fall into. The reality is, the longer you play, the more likely you are to make a bad situation worse, rather than rectify it.

Set a Money Limit

This can be done in several ways, be it deciding on a set figure you are comfortably winning or losing, or by depositing a set amount each week, month or year, and resisting the urge to stray from the plan. Modern online casinos are aware of problem gambling – not to mentioned they are both morally and legally obliged to take notice – and package tools to make setting money limits easier and more convenient for players. You can even set a deposit limit, and once you reach it the operator will no longer take your money. This restriction expires after a pre-determined time period. This is a great way to manage the amount you are spending on gambling with a safety net in place in the event you are tempted to make a bad decision.

Set a Time Limit

Alternatively, it’s possible to set time limits to your play to further protect your bankroll. As we’ve already explained, the longer you play any casino games, be it slots, blackjack or roulette, the more likely you are to suffer losses. Restricting the amount of time you can play is – by default – restricting the amount of money you can lose, providing you don’t up your bets as a result. The best online casinos in the UK feature play clocks to make it easier to manage your time limits and gamble responsibly.

Don’t Gamble When You Are Upset…Or Drunk

Gambling addiction works like any other addiction. In the same way that an alcoholic might drink to escape the realities of the world around them, gambling addicts place bets to achieve the same thing. Often, this ties into deeper problems relating to depression or similar conditions, but the principle remains. Using gambling as a form of relief from unpleasant feelings is the beginning of a slippery slope. Long-term, gambling addiction causes severe financial issues for sufferers. Getting into the habit of gambling when you are upset or under the influence of alcohol is likely to cloud your judgement and lead to further bad gambling decisions.

How to Spot If I or Someone I Know Has A Gambling Problem

Identifying a gambling problem, or accepting that you have one, is half of the battle. Signs on a gambling problem can be difficult to detect in other people, but we’d advise players to look at themselves honestly. Are you lying about your gambling? Have you borrowed money to gamble? Are you constantly thinking about your next bet? Are your bet sizes getting bigger and bigger? Do you often contemplate ‘just one more bet’? If you or someone you know would answer yes to any of these questions, seek professional help immediately.

Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction
Image representing a gambler who has lost moneyChasing LosesYou begin betting bigger to recover lost money. This increases your risk and total potential loses.
Image showing a gambler who is hard up for moneyBorrowing MoneyYou start borrowing money to gamble with. You are no longer playing within your means.
Image showing a gambler playing on his laptopYou Gamble EverydayGambling too often is a clear sign that you are unable to refrain from the activity.

What to Do If You or Someone You Know Has a Gambling Problem

Fortunately, in the UK there are several avenues open to people suffering from gambling addiction. Here’s a roundup of the best resources.

Stock image for GambleAware

BeGambleAware

BeGambleAware is one of the biggest help centres in the UK for gambling addiction. Its website features a live chat feature for those who find communication through digital messaging more comfortable. There’s also a freephone line open from 8am until midnight seven days a week.

There’s also lots of information on its website about identifying gambling problems, and who it affects. The staff on hand are experienced in dealing with common gambling addiction issues and can put you in touch with the right treatment providers across the country.

Stock image for National Problem Gambling Clinic

National Problem Gambling Clinic

The National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) is focused on advancing existing models of treatment for gambling addiction. The clinic works closely with other UK systems such as GamCare and The Gordon Moody Association to care for individuals who are having difficulty controlling their gambling habits.

The website has an online form which you can fill in to apply get help locally in your area. There’s also an emergency service which is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday in Camden, London. The office is run by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

Stock image for Gambler's Anonymous

Gambler’s Anonymous

You may have already heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA meetings as they are regularly referred to, but a similar service is also available to gambling addicts. The support groups take place all over the UK and provide a safe and judgement-free environment where suffers can go and share their experiences. The idea is that by communicating with fellow gambling addicts, it is possible to overcome problems together. The support network has been very successful and continues to grow in popularity. It’s also a common support network for gambling addicts who have already completed more intensive treatments and therapies, as regular Gambler’s Anonymous meetings helps them to maintain their progress.

Stock image for GamCare

GamCare

GamCare is one of the leading national providers of information and advice to those suffering from gambling related problems. It offers free counselling and treatment to gambling addicts as well as a chatroom service which acts like a kind of online Gambler’s Anonymous meeting.

It also specialises in advice on debt control, one of the most common problems gambling addicts end of facing. The program helps recovering gambling addicts to better manage their finances and take back control of their financial independence. Face-to-face counselling is available throughout the UK.

Image of Gordon Moody association

Gordon Moody

The Gordon Moody Association is a specialist in treatments for gambling addiction. Treatment involves an intensive residential programme much like rehab, and is effective for gamblers most severely affected by addiction and all the side effects of longer peroids of excessive gambling.

Its therapeutic treatments are considered innovative in this field, and Gordon Moody is one of the most unique services out there tackling this problem in the UK. You can apply for treatment online. GMA also provides free treatment for those unable to pay for rehab via charity donations.

Responsible Operators: Common Practices

The best online casinos take responsible gaming very seriously. In fact, if you cannot find any information about how to gamble responsibly on an operator’s website, it’s a big warning sign that you might be dealing with a dodgy casino. Support and help directly from the online casinos themselves comes in various forms. Informational guides are common, as are links to support networks and treatment services. Built-in game time clocks and deposit limiters also help players to stay safe. 888casino also offers a feature allowing players to limit its autoplay feature to avoid slots games from running for long periods unattended. Another top online casino, 32Red, offers online secure age verification to prevent venerable youngsters from getting involved in online gambling. As the issue of problem gambling continues to gain more exposure in the UK, we expect more and more operators to become directly involved in the treatment services and prevention schemes we are starting to see around the country today.

Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Treatments for gambling addiction wary widely depending on the severity of the problem, and the subsequent side-effects of a person’s past gambling habits. Many sufferers opt to go through some form of counselling and/or psychotherapy to determine what it is that actually makes them unable to control their gambling in the first place. There are also rehab centres for more severe cases where patients can undergo a period of forced abstaining from gambling altogether. Anti-depressants and other medications are also often prescribed to people suffering from gambling addiction. Self-help groups and relapse prevention meetings are common in a process that can take years to manage successfully.

Have Fun, But Gamble Responsibly

We hope that the information in this guide has been useful. Following these responsible gambling tips will help keep you on the straight and narrow with your gambling. Remember, it’s important to have fun, but always be responsible. If you feel like you have even the slightest problem with your online casino gambling, seek help sooner rather than later.