Gone are the days when playing at online casinos was considered a shady, unsafe pastime. Today, especially if you’re a player located in the United Kingdom, the vast majority of online gambling activities are safe, secure and highly regulated.
The term that covers the act of keeping online gamblers safe is known a responsible gaming. However, it’s more than just a term. It is a list of stringent policies and measures adopted by the online gambling site to make the player’s experience as secure as possible.
Most players in the UK play online for fun. They consider online gambling as a leisure activity, similar to watching TV or visiting the pub. They play within their budget and only spend money that they can afford to lose.
But there is a fraction of players that spend more than they can afford it, and will continue to do so, until gambling stops being a fun activity and could turn into an addiction.
A responsible gaming policy could greatly prevent this from happening.
So, what does an online casino need to do to make sure that it supports responsible gaming?
Defining Responsible Gaming
Before we go any further, let’s take a more in depth look at what the term responsible gaming actually means.
- A collection of policies and conditions that is adopted by online casinos and online players.
- To offer a safe gaming environment and to protect vulnerable players who may have a gambling problem.
- To encourage players to see gambling as an activity of leisure and definitely not one to earn a steady income from.
- To implement principles of responsible gambling into services, products and marketing.
What are the 7 Most Important Principles of Responsible Gambling?
These are the things that online casinos need to do to make sure that they follow a responsible gambling code:
- Protect vulnerable players
- Prevent underage players from accessing their site
- Protect online payment processes
- Provide a safe and secure online environment
- Protect the privacy and personal information of all players.
- Follow the rules of ethical and responsible marketing
- Take all the necessary steps to prevent criminal activity such as money laundering and fraud
How do you know that an online casino takes its Responsible Gambling policies seriously?
An online casino needs to be proud of its Responsible Gaming policy, and all players should be able to access a special, dedicated page that spells out this policy.
This page usually contains crucial information for players regarding responsible gambling, including:
- Advice on how to gamble safely
- Tips on how to recognize problem gambling
- Self-assessment tools
- Information about the protection of minors and vulnerable players
- Different gambling tools available
- List of organizations and helplines that provide support to problem gamblers and their families
Problem Gambling Checklist
If you’re reading this, the chances are that you believe that you or a family member/friend have a gambling problem. We’ve put together a checklist of questions that may indicate that you may have – or are in the process of developing – an addiction.
If you answer positively to any of these questions, we sincerely recommend that you seek help from the many different non-profit organizations that are standing by to assist.
- I feel guilty about the amount of money that I spend on my online gambling activities.
- I feel a surge of excitement when I spend large sums of money at the online casino.
- I can’t stop gambling, even when I lose money.
- I am experiencing financial problems because of my gambling habits.
- Gambling is having a negative impact on my studies, employment or relationships with the people I love.
- I am suffering from health problems – including mental health problems such as stress and anxiety – because of my gambling habits.
- I am restless when I am not gambling.
- I think of gambling even when I am not partaking.
- I believe that I may have a gambling problem.
- Others believe that I may have a gambling problem.
How to Help out a Friend or Family Member who May have a Gambling Addiction
Nothing is more frustrating than watching from the sidelines when you suspect that a friend or relative may be developing a gambling problem or is a full-blown addict.
If you know what to look out for, you may be able to step in before it becomes too late.
Most people report on picking up on a change in the suspected addict’s behavior, moods or financial situation as the first stage of a developing addiction.
These are questions you can ask yourself about your friend or family member:
- Is there money missing from the wallet?
- Are there unexplained transactions in the bank account?
- Is the person always short of money, even though he/she has a good job?
- Has the person taken out several loans?
- Are there unpaid bills?
- Are you being regularly asked to lend the person money?
- Are there items of value missing from the home?
- Is the person’s performance at work being affected?
- Do you see changes to their personality?
- Have they become withdrawn?
- Do you pick up on manipulative or sneaky behavior?
- Is the person upset, agitated or easily provoked?
- Did you catch them out telling a lie?
- Have you picked up on feelings of frustration or depression?
- Are they spending longer and longer hours gambling online?
- Are they easily distracted?
- Are they always late to get to work/school/home?
- Do they take days off from their commitments to specifically gamble?
That’s not to say that if a person displays one or more of these behavioral patterns, they are gambling addicts. Many of these questions above could indicate other, underlying problems.
If you’re concerned, try and bring up the subject in a gentle way, avoiding anger or accusations. The person is probably feeling very scared, vulnerable and confused. You may be met with anger or denial. But you may get lucky and have the person open up to you or agree on seeing a therapist. It’s definitely worth the effort!
One thing to note is that gambling therapists and hotlines will also guide family members or friends of addict, even without the participation of the problem gambler. They provide you with tools so that you can learn how to identify and help problem gamblers, even if they themselves aren’t open to the idea right now.
How to Protect Children from Gambling
With the easy access of smartphones and the internet, minors today are much more exposed to gambling activities than in the past. Teens, especially, are attracted to anything thrilling, and that includes gambling.
Gambling laws in the United Kingdom dictate that players need to be at least 18 years of age or older in order to play for real money at online casinos or sports betting sites.
Licensed online casinos in the UK need to prove that they have strict identity verification software in place. This allows them to cross reference the player’s birthdate with uploaded personal identification documentation at the point where the player tries to withdraw any winnings.
But while operators can take all the necessary steps, it’s important for parents to make sure that underage people aren’t able to gamble online. This includes keeping login details and passwords out of the hands of minors, installing blocking software and speaking openly to children about the dangers of gambling at an early age.
Do some research about the best tools to use on your home computer and household devices so that gambling ads can’t be viewed.
Different Tools Available to Gamble Responsibly
We’ve spoken mainly up until now about the online casino’s responsibility in responsible gambling; but that doesn’t mean that gamblers don’t have a need to do their bit as well. In fact, it’s a two-way deal if you want to make the very best use of the tools available to you.
Online casinos have introduced some excellent tools to help players gamble responsibly. It’s up to you to not only take advantage of them, but also to the best tool for you.
The great thing is that these tools can be customized for each player to use.
These are just some of the tools that you’ll find at licensed and regulated UK online casinos:
- Deposit Limits: If you don’t want to be tempted to wager your entire bankroll in one go, then check out this clever tool. Determine how much you’ll feel comfortable wagering and then place a limit on your daily, weekly or monthly expenditure. Once you’ve reached that limit, the online casino won’t allow you to gamble for real money until a specified time.
- Loss Limits: If you want to make sure that your bankroll doesn’t dip below a certain amount due to an unlucky streak, choose to limit your losses. You won’t be able to place any bets once you reach your limit.
- Time/Session Limit: Feel that you are spending too long at the online casino and finding it hard to take a break? Then limit the time that you can spend there. Set yourself a time limit and when you reach it, you’ll be logged out automatically.
- Transaction History: There’s nothing like seeing the numbers in black and white in front of your face. The online casino will provide you with a very detailed and extensive list of all your gambling activity at the site, including how much you’ve deposited, how much you’ve bet and how much you’ve won and lost. It’s important to be on top of things when it comes your finances, and that includes the money that you spend at the online casino.
- Time-Alerts: Let’s face it: when it comes to gambling, we can sometimes get caught up in the moment and lose track of time. It’s not for nothing that brick-and-mortar casinos don’t display the time on their properties. If you want to be sure that you’re not going overboard, choose time alerts that will regularly pop up as reminders, telling you the time and how much you’ve spent at the casino in your current session.
- Self-Assessment: The online casino provides you with a list of questions to help you assess if you’re in danger of becoming – or have already become – a problem gambler.
- Self Exclusion: This is probably the most extreme tool at your disposal, but it may be the most effective in the long run. If you feel that your gambling habits have gotten out of hand, you have the opportunity to request that the casino bans you temporarily or permanently from the site. During your exclusion period, you won’t be able to access your account, nor will you be able to bet on games. An important thing to note: If you choose the permanent self-exclusion path, make absolutely sure that this is what you want to do. Once you choose it, there is no going back and you will never be able to play at that online casino again.
Support for Gambling Addiction
Following a Responsible Gambling policy also means providing important information to players about the type of support that they can get for their problem.
The UK has many excellent non-profit organizations that can be contacted. Their contact details should be clearly displayed on the Responsible Gambling page at the online casino.
These are just some of the organizations available:
Provides info for players to make informed decisions about their gambling activities.
- Provides info, advice and support to gambling addicts.
- Operates UK national gambling helpline.
- Offers different
- treatment to problem gamblers + their family members.
- Educates about gambling and harmful habits.
- Participate in online forums and groups.
- 24/7 support
- Personal email response
- Similar framework to Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Members share experiences and support each other.