Every now and then everybody needs some entertainment and action in their lives. When done for the right reasons, online gambling, and betting in general, are great sources of thrill. However, it goes without saying that when real money betting loses its essential element of fun, yet does not decrease in frequency, there is an issue that can only be defined as problem gambling.
This phenomenon is an industry-wide concern, especially in online casinos which are more readily available to players than brick-and-mortar locations. This glaring issue is not lost on online casinos and as such, many have taken significant steps to address it, both before it becomes an issue and once it has become one. These steps include prevention, consultation, and if needed, treatment.
Awareness of the dangers posed by problem gambling and gambling addiction has led many online casinos to post resource pages directly on their websites, front and center. This information is most times readily accessible, easy to understand, and is meant for both players and members of the public.
Here at Online Casinos US, we’ll give you a breakdown of responsible gambling, how online casinos address the issue, the different types of information and resources available to players, and how brands are tackling the phenomenon.
Problem Gambling: How to Spot the Signs
Despite each online casino brand framing the warning signs indicating problem gambling differently, the core issues are largely the same and are merely repeated in different ways across all major brands. In general, players and members of the public should be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Neglect: Putting off time with family members, friends, or even work in order to gamble
- Dishonesty: Lying about the amount of time and/or money you spend gambling
- “Chasing”: Betting even more in an attempt to win back money previously lost
- Impulse control: The inability to stop betting or to even control it
- Emotional disturbances: Using betting as an escape from reality or even acute feelings of depression, hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts
- Financial instability: Selling property and/or borrowing money to gamble with or to pay off gambling-related debts
Tips for Taking Control of Your Gambling
While the vast majority of players will not develop some type of gambling addiction or even display signs of problem gambling, it certainly can never hurt to approach betting with both strategy and discipline. Of course, any strategy that is not easy to adhere to is doomed to fail, so make sure you formulate a plan and stick to it (hence the discipline). Here are several useful tips covering a range of topics including how to develop a system and tricks to employ to stay ahead of the game.
- Maintain a realistic outlook when it comes to gambling. Betting on anything from sports to casino games should be looked at strictly from an entertainment perspective. Treat it as though you would treat going out to an expensive meal or a movie. Do not expect to get your money back at the end. Should you win, amazing, but it is by no means a guarantee. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in the plus column, do yourself a favor and quit while you’re ahead.
- Don’t chase losses. Speaking of quitting while you’re ahead, the same thing could be said about quitting while you’re behind. If you feel the temptation to gamble more in order to win back money you’ve previously lost, you’re in for more trouble. Just don’t do it.
- Don’t gamble while intoxicated. There is a reason casino give you free drinks while you’re gambling. Alcohol and other intoxicants cloud your judgement. Don’t give the house any more of an edge than it already has. Stay sharp, be aware of how much you’re spending and what bets you’re making.
- Don’t play while you’re upset. This one may seem strange at first but think of it like intoxication. You’re not thinking clearly when you’re upset about something. If your judgement is clouded and you’re distracted, chances are you’re not having fun and you’re not making decisions you would normally make.
- Balance your life and gambling. Betting can be fun and add excitement. However, it is important to remember that you should have other hobbies and things in your life other than wagering your money on games. A life that revolves around gambling is a definite sign of gambling addiction.
- Set limits. In general, budgets before betting is good policy, but if you know ahead of time you may have a hard time stopping, many online casinos offer the ability to set hard limits on time on site, spending, deposits, and more in order to make sure you practice responsible gambling.
- Close your accounts if you feel you have a problem. If you feel you’re spending an undue amount of time or money betting, then being proactive and closing your account is always a good idea. Not only can it reopened at a later time, but most brands offer quick routes to close your account in a few clicks of the mouse.
- Self-exclusion. If all else fails, you can willingly enter your name on your state’s exclusion list, thereby preventing you from further play.
Where Do Casinos Fit in with Responsible Gambling?
While responsible gambling might seem counterintuitive to the mission of a casino, all legal, regulated brands are very cognizant of the seriousness of problem gambling and gambling addiction. Despite many brands introducing their features and programs meant to address the issue, state and federal regulations as well as industry oversight bodies such as the American Gaming Association also compel brands to take a more hands-on approach to player safety.
As such, casinos and sportsbooks, both online and offline, have many features and protections in place to make sure players are betting safely. In addition to background checks, brands have extensive features and resources available to players to ensure a responsible gambling environment.
Are you concerned about yourself or a loved one? Here is a quick questionnaire to help you understand problem gambling and if/when help should be sought.
- Do you gamble for longer than you planned?
- Do you spend too much time gambling?
- Do you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about gambling when you should be doing something else?
- Do you gamble more money than you should?
- Have you tried to win back money you lost?
- Have you ever borrowed money to gamble?
- Are you hesitant to tell people how much time or money you spend gambling?
- Have friends or family ever told you that you gamble too much?
- Has your gambling ever left you in financial trouble?
- Does your gambling ever leave you feeling frustrated or irritated?
- Has gambling had a negative impact on your job or your personal life?
If you answered yes to more than one of any of these questions, it may be beneficial for yourself and loved ones if you took the time to consider setting hard limits for yourself and doing what is necessary to stick to them. Whether it be through taking advantage of online casino features such as time or deposit limits, it is always better to play sensibly and responsibly.
Seeking Help for Problem Gambling
As we discussed earlier, responsible gaming is an issue brands take very seriously and as a player, so should you. If after reading this you feel you need help, there are not only nationwide resources available, but also state-specific outlets. National help includes the National Council on Problem Gambling, Gambler’s Anonymous, National Drug Helpline, National Suicide Prevention Line, and more.