Responsible gambling (or responsible gaming as it’s sometimes referred to) is an industry wide initiative designed to help people who experience problems in controlling their online gambling. After all, when gambling no longer becomes the fun, excitement filled pastime that is for many millions of players around the world, then it not only harms the vulnerable player in question, but also their friends and family. It also gives a bad reputation to online casinos who are keen to keep their entertainment services as a bit of harmless fun and not a fast track to criminal behaviour. So, let’s explore the many ways that casinos are counteracting the negative aspects.
What is Responsible Gambling Exactly?
In short, it is a series of measures implemented by online casinos and is enforced by the authorities that give them their gaming license to operate in territories around the world, including India. The basic message can be summed up as knowing when to stop gambling.
Some of the biggest online casino brands around the globe, such as Bet365, Mr Green and LeoVegas, prominently feature responsible gambling initiatives across their websites and in their mobile applications. You will therefore find numerous messages about stopping when your gambling is no longer fun and there will be many links to organisations that can help players, friends and family when they think someone’s gambling has gone too far.
All sites licenced by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), to name but two, are required to clamp down on problem gambling and to offer players in trouble pages of guidance, technological methods for controlling their gambling and links to third party support groups where vulnerable players can receive impartial help.
One of the biggest problems is, of course, addiction to gambling, where it takes over a players life in terms of time, money and relationships. And we all have a responsibility to not only monitor ourselves but also others if we see that they are struggling to limit their gambling.
That’s why online casinos have technology that enables players to limit their acceptable losses over a certain period, or to limit their playing time per month, or to self-exclude (essentially block themselves from being able to access the casino). Customer support teams are trained to notice possible signs of addiction and they have to power to close the accounts of problem gamblers.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Looking through various research papers by the leading psychologists and medical professionals working in the area of addiction, CasinoTop has come up with a comprehensive guide to what you should be looking out for – in both yourself and in others.
Inability to Forget About Gambling
If you find yourself spending a lot of your days thinking about when you can next gamble, such as daydreaming at work rather than being able to concentrate on the task at hand, then you may have a problem that needs addressing. The same goes for if you meticulously plan for your next gambling session rather than treating as a fun hobby that you partake in from time to time. This can include ensuring you always have enough time for gambling or financially planning out how you will raise enough money to be able to go chasing that jackpot once again.
Another way this particular warning sign manifests is if you are reliving your past gambling glories more than is healthy. This can include thinking about it a lot, or always banging on about that time a big bet came in to your co-workers, friends or family members. You may also find yourself constantly justifying your gambling habits when people question why you do it in the first place. In short, if you are defining yourself through your gambling or feel like gambling is just a part of your personality, you may already be addicted without really knowing it.
Trying to Attain Unrealistic Goals
We all want to win, of course, otherwise there would be little point in playing. But if you’re unable to walk away after a certain amount of losses in a row or you’re constantly chasing your losses, then you might have a problem. For example, if you deposit ₹20,000 and then lose the lot by playing slots, you should have the sense to walk away having been thoroughly entertained for hours. However, if your response is to deposit another ₹20,000 and to continue playing (often thinking a big win or that elusive lucky streak is just around the corner), you have a problem.
After all, gambling is a risk. You may win or you may lose. But if you think of gambling as winning money, then you have a skewed perception of the industry and your relationship to it is problematic. So, if you’re gambling more and more until you reach your dream amount of money (your goal), then you really should consider asking for some help if you’re unable to stop.
You Simply Can’t Stop Even After Trying
If you’ve recognised that you have a problem and even admitted to yourself that you may have a gambling addiction, then that’s a great first step. But after recognising that your behaviour is not healthy or that your close ones complain about your gambling attitude and you still can’t stay away from just one last game or one last deposit, it could be time to see a professional to get help. Medical practitioners are there to help you and they can always refer you to an expert if necessary or they feel they are not the best person to speak with after admitting your problems.
Getting Withdrawal Symptoms When Not Gambling
Just like cigarette smokers experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, the same thing happens to gambling addicts who for whatever reason experience a sudden break in their ability to play (possibly because of a lack of time or a lack of funds). So, when away from the online casino, ask yourself if you ever get unnecessarily irritable, or you experience restless, or you can’t sleep properly at night. All of these things suggest you’re addicted to the gambling high and your mind and body reacts adversely when it is taken away from you.
Escaping from Reality or Emotional Pain
When do you gamble exactly? If it’s a way to chill out after a stressful day at work, or if you’re more likely to gamble after having an argument with a partner or you do it when you feel down for no real reason or are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, then your gambling is probably not healthy for you. When we play not just for fun but to solve problems in our lives or to escape them completely, then our decision making processes begin to suffer and we make bad decisions one after the other. This leads to a vicious cycle which is tough to break.
One troubling factor from the research we read is that people who use gambling as a means to escape their problems are far more likely to lose much more than other players. Seek help if any of these things are starting to ring true about your own gambling habits.
Dishonesty and Lying to Loved Ones
When we are accused of having something wrong with us or someone tells us that we have a problem, we tend to shut down and put up our defences. It’s a natural defence mechanism that exists inside all of us. But when it comes to problem gamblers, they tend to lie to themselves, their friends and their family. It can start off with white lies about how much time or money we are spending in order to gamble, and can eventually lead to a total breakdown in communications with the people who matter most in your life. Don’t let it get to that stage.
Addiction is not a weakness, so don’t think people are calling you weak if they question your gambling habits. Instead take some time to consider their points. If they are right, it’s far better that you get help sooner rather than later – your bank account will thank you in the end.
Funding Gambling with Criminal Activity
This is the classic symptom shown in countless movies and TV shows about problem gamblers. But just because it has become a cliche doesn’t mean it isn’t true. If you are in anyway getting involved in criminal activity, taking out high interest loans or stealing money directly from people or your company in order to gamble, then you really are in trouble. Stop immediately and seek professional help. Talking to trusted friends can also be of help too. But most importantly, realise that you have taken a wrong turn in your life and you need to ask for assistance from others.
What Can I Do to Curb My Gambling Addiction?
If you’ve admitted that you have a problem and you want to seek help, then congratulations – you’ve taken a massive and very difficult step in realising that you need to change. Once you’ve summoned the courage to admit the worst to yourself, there are three avenues open to you:
- Enter a therapy program and get expert guidance from trained medical professionals
- On the advice of your doctor, take medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms
- Visit self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous (GA) to get long term support
We hope that this page has helped you or a loved one. If you’re still on the fence about it and want further information, read up on responsible gambling, take a survey to judge whether you have a problem and visit online organisations that can help you further. And use the technology available to you to put limits on your playing time or your losses and self-exclude entirely if you really struggle to stay away from online casinos even when you know you can’t afford it. So, when the fun stops, STOP, as one successful campaign put it. We believe in you. Stay strong!