Online gambling is a form of entertainment where players can experience a thrill by betting on the outcome of different events. From the winner of a match to the symbols after a spin of the reels, gambling is all about random chance. However, this thrill can become addictive and lead to problem gambling, also known as compulsive betting or pathological gambling.
In the US, about 2.5% of the adult population has a gambling problem, according to reports from the National Center for Responsible Gambling. Around 1% of US adults are categorized as having a severe gambling problem. The issue often leads to financial problems and can also affect family and friends.
The good news is that problem gambling can be avoided and healed. Moreover, it is never too late or too early to look into responsible gambling guidelines and policies. On this page, we will tackle the problem in more detail, take a look at what the government and the operators are doing to help players, and also at the best solutions to help you stay in control when gambling.
What is Responsible Gambling?
In short, responsible gambling is a combination of strategies and behaviors that help players approach betting as a form of entertainment. The goal should not be to earn money, but simply to have fun for a period of time.
To achieve this, you have to understand from the start that gambling, like most forms of entertainment, costs money. As a result, you should start gambling knowing exactly how much money you want to spend. Setting limits in advance is an essential part of gambling responsibly.
The second cost that goes into gambling is time. Again, you need to properly manage this resource by setting a time limit and organizing your schedule. Gambling shouldn’t interfere with other obligations.
Then, with both limits set, you should easily walk away from the gambling activity if either one is reached. For example, if you have a bad streak and lose your bankroll for the session within 20 minutes, you shouldn’t gamble for 40 more minutes because you planned on playing for an hour. The same goes for when you are having a winning streak but you reach your time limit. It is better to stop and continue some other time.
Overall, the most important aspect to responsible gambling is managing your time and money so that other parts of your life aren’t affected.
Tips for Gambling Responsibly
The following are general tips that we recommend following even if you don’t think that you are experiencing problem gambling. Creating strong habits can help you prevent issues in the future. Here are some recommendations that you can use to better protect yourself when gambling:
- Don’t bet money that you can’t afford to lose: You should only bet with funds that don’t have any other purpose. This means not gambling with money that you have to use to pay rent, buy groceries, pay for utilities, cover medical expenses, or anything else required outside of the gambling world.
- Take advantage of online limits: As you can see, gambling sites allow you to set various limits. We recommend setting these from the very start based on a real evaluation of your situation. After setting the deposit limit, you have to take a break if you run out of funds.
- Understand that the operator has the advantage: Know that casino games give the casino an advantage and that sportsbooks take a cut of the profits through the built-in margins. Don’t expect to win in the long run and don’t base your future expenses on these winnings.
- Try other forms of entertainment and hobbies: Gambling shouldn’t be your only form of entertainment. It is best to have other hobbies that would keep you busy away from the gambling options.
- Stop gambling when the fun stops: Lastly, it is best to stop playing when you feel that you are no longer having fun. Even if you are still within your imposed limits, simply stop if you don’t feel entertained anymore. You can always try later when you are actually excited about it.
Problem Gambling Evaluation
It can be difficult to properly evaluate one’s own problems. When it comes to excessive gambling, the frequency is an indicator, but it is not the only one. There are also other aspects that go into it.
A good way to answer the question “Do I have a gambling problem?” is to learn more about the concept and start practicing ways to prevent it. You can also check out the Gamblers Anonymous quiz to have a starting answer. There are only 20 Yes/No questions that you can go through within a few minutes.
Another way to help you evaluate your own situation is to take a step back and look at your recent activity. How much did you gamble over the past couple of weeks, both in terms of money and in time spent? Are you having financial issues because you lost too much gambling? Did you cancel plans with family and friends to do something connected to gambling? Did you actually have fun during your sessions?
If you answer honestly and you see that it is not a healthy response, you might want to look into it further. Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that you are addicted to gambling or that you have a problem. It is best to leave the actual diagnosis to a qualified professional. However, you can always start taking measures to prevent problem gambling.
Problem Gambling Help Resources
- Gamblers Anonymous: A group of men and women with experience with problem gambling that share their experiences and help each other solve common issues.
- National Council on Problem Gambling: The biggest organization with the mission to create comprehensive policy and helpful programs for players who are affected by problem gambling. It offers resources for most states.
- Gam-Anon: An international service where players can learn more about problem gambling, take part in meetings, and share with others that are going through similar issues. It promotes a 12-step program to fight against compulsive gambling and provides assistance along the way.
- GamTalk: A supportive community of men and women with the goal of helping people who are having gambling issues. It offers a 24/7 online chat room and scheduled sessions with trained support workers.