Responsible Gambling - The Ultimate Guide
This brand new guide will show you everything you need to know about how to gamble responsibly online. In this guide, you will learn how to choose between various online casinos, as well as tips and tools to help you on your way so you can make the most out of your casino experience.
This guide will focus entirely on you, your wellbeing and how to compare each online casino with each other and find the one that suits you the most. Regardless if you have had gambling problems or just looking for more information, this guide’s goal is to get you informed on how to play responsibly.
Does that sound good? Then let’s get started right away!
Chapter 1: Become a Pro in Comparing Online Casinos
In this chapter, we will take a closer look at online casinos and which factors to take into account when playing online. Here you will receive an inside look in how slot machines and casinos function on the internet. This way you will feel more confident when you choose to play online.
As a player, you want to be sure that you will be treated in a fair way when you gamble online.
In order to find out if you are being treated fair by the online casino, you can keep an eye on several factors. It is important that you know about different tricks that are being used by the casinos. On top of that, it is also beneficial to know exactly how slot machines are made.
Remember that an online casino and the games you might find there are not made by the same company. They are two separate things. That is why there can be a difference in how various games might function. When it comes down to the online casino, you want to pay attention to their terms and conditions. When it comes down to online slot machines, always look through the individual rules provided in the interface of the game.
What does Random Number Generator (RNG) mean?
Do you know the inner workings of an online slot machine? Perhaps you are already familiar with how you play on one, but do you know the mechanics and how it decides whether you win or not? A slot machine operates through the so-called “Random Number Generator” (RNG) technology. To put it simply; think of RNG as the brain of the slot machine.
The technology used within the slot machines generates numbers, which correlate to the symbols on the reels. Within a millisecond, the RNG will choose a value anywhere between 0 and 4 billion.
After the value is chosen, this number will then be converted to corresponding numbers on the game’s reels. The outcome of every spin you take is thus determined by the RNG as soon as you hit the “play” button. In order for the RNG technology to function, it uses an algorithm that gives it instructions as to which numbers to generate. This algorithm is checked regularly, to ensure it is functioning properly and providing a fair gaming experience for the player.
Chapter 2: Online Tools
When you have a healthy relationship with online gambling, it automatically gives you some peace of mind. A good way of making sure you are OK is using online tools as a crutch. You will be able to find a myriad of different online aids and they will make sure you can play comfortably if you use them regularly.
In this section, you will some of the tools we recommend to ensure your mental well-being and health.
“Calm” is an app, you already guessed it from the name, that will help you calm down when you need it most. With this app, you will swiftly be taken to a place when you can become relaxed and create a peaceful state of mind.
It is no wonder that this app has been awarded the title of “App of the Year” in 2017 by the App Store. Here you will be greeted with sounds of rain and by swiping left you will be able to change the background sound to one of your choices.
From the default menu, you will be able to browse through different categories of sounds and calming background noise.
There is also a meditation with various guided meditation sessions, each with a set purpose dedicated to making you relax and stimulate mindfulness. For example, there is a category exclusively dedicated to helping you fall asleep quicker and helps you get a good night’s rest. The app is completely in English, but be aware that Calm does contain in-app purchases. Calm is available for download on both the App Store and Google Play Store.
The Mindfulness App
If you believe that meditation is the way forward for you, then the Mindfulness App might be right up your alley. This app will take you on a 5-day guided meditation introduction, teaching you the ins and outs of how to practice mindfulness. You will then have the ability to choose from over 200 different guided meditations and courses hosted by some of the most prestigious teachers.
A guided meditation might be the right solution for people who suffer from worrying too much or have trouble sleeping. When using the app, a voice or sound will guide you the whole way through the meditation.
Be aware that it might be hard to focus at first, especially in the beginning. That is why it might be a good idea to start out with short meditation sessions, meant for people who are new to meditating.
Chapter 3: Tips And Tricks - A Healthy Relationship With Online Casino
This chapter is all about staying safe while playing online casino games. There are many precautions you should be taking to ensure you're protecting yourself from forces that might leave you vulnerable when spending time at any online casino. Make sure to follow these guidelines closely for more control over your gaming experience.
Always Play Casino Games Sober
Drugs and alcohol are known to impair judgement and when you’re playing casino games for real money, you’ll want to be fully aware of your own actions. Playing casino games under the influence will most likely result in making impulsive decisions, disregarding the bet limits and ignoring the time spent playing.
Once a bet is placed, regardless of the size, it’s impossible to have it reimbursed, regardless of whether it was placed in good faith or not and no amount of complaints to customer support is going to make it any different.
Never Play Casino Games to Escape Your Problems
Playing casino games as an escape from reality is never a good idea and should be avoided at all costs. As explained above, casino games should only be played as a means of entertainment and should always be played in moderation. Try something more effective to resist the temptation of playing, like taking a walk or going for a drive to take your mind off things that might be troubling you.
Regardless of what might be troubling you, playing casino games when vulnerable is never a good idea and will most likely make you feel worse when you’re done. We cannot stress this enough - Always play online casino games as a means of entertainment.
Playing casino games to lift your spirits with the possibility of making big wins is not the right mindset to start gambling. It will not only affect your psychological state but drain you emotionally too. Gambling online is all about making the right decisions since you’re playing for real money and any negative mood or mindset will most likely spiral things out of control.
Never Try To Recover Lost Money
As touched on briefly above, chasing lost bets by making more frequent and larger bets is guaranteed to leave you in a negative emotional state and will affect all other areas of your life. Set yourself a budget and stick to it to avoid any unwanted behaviour. Chasing lost bets is a classic example of how negative emotional states are developed when playing casino games and will always result in anger and displeasure with yourself.
Not only will you be putting yourself at risk but you’ll end up losing more money than originally budgeted for, causing a snowball effect of negative feelings.
The budget you set for online gambling should be a realistic one and always a sum that you’re able to afford to lose. You also have the option to set a daily, weekly or monthly deposit limits to make sure your budgets are controlled by the online casino and lifting these limits will only come into effect after contacting customer support and waiting the stipulated time.
Never play to get out of a bad financial situation
Playing casino games with the intention of getting out of financial trouble is a very slippery slope and should be avoided at all costs. Think of the discontent losing more money will bring when already having financial problems. Once again, casino games should only be played for fun and for no other reason at all. Any other reason will most likely leave you regretting the decision to start playing and in a worse financial position.
Chapter 4: Game Addiction Statistics In The UK
Gambling can be addictive and every year, hundreds of thousands of British players are affected by this gambling addiction where it spirals out of control. We’ve collected statistics to help you understand the gravity of the problem and how institutions are tackling the problem to keep players safe and gambling under control. The following are the statistics:
- More than 2 million people in the UK are either problem gamblers or at risk of addiction;
- The number of British over-16s deemed to be problem gamblers had grown by a third in three years;
- Problem gambling estimated at costing the U.K. between £260m and £1.16bn per year;
- 51% of gamblers gamble through a mobile device;
- 430,000 people over the age of 16 suffer from serious habits.
Dangers of Online Gambling
Gambling online has revolutionized gambling behaviour and is far easier to develop an addiction, mainly due to the fact that it’s very easily accessible and can be played through any mobile device at any time of the day. Problem gamblers will find it much harder to resist the temptation knowing that they have all the games at their disposal at any given moment of the day, which is why the Gambling Commission sets controls in place to make it easy for players to opt-out.
As opposed to the traditional brick and mortar casinos where players have to commute and interact with other players and dealers, online gambling allows players to avoid any physical contact whatsoever, making it much harder to identify a problem gambler. 97% of all online gamblers gamble from home and it’s virtually impossible to know what type of player is gambling online unless some controls were put in place.
Online gambling also presents another problem - the age of the player. While it’s illegal to gamble online under the age of 18, there’s no way of knowing whether adolescents are using a friend’s or their parent's credit card for their gaming activity.
The incredible ease of access puts virtually everyone at risk, not only because it’s done in total privacy, but because it can be done at any time of the day. Casino games can be played during work, when bored or even when distressed and with minimal effort, which puts players at far greater risk than the effort it takes to play at traditional land-based casinos.
Chapter 5: Setting Limitations and Exclusions - This is What You Can do
In this section, you can find out what you can do if you think your gambling behaviour has taken a turn for the worse. It is good to be aware that you will always be able to action yourself, should you notice you have lost control of your gambling. First, we will take a closer look at the gambling authorities; institutions that regulate the online gambling market.
The Gambling Authority
Gambling Authorities, such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, are official departments that fall under a country’s government and other bodies of law. Their job is to make sure that gambling and online casinos are regulated and conduct fair practices across the gambling market.
It is them that assure the level of quality, security and trustworthiness of an online casino, allowing the casino to operate legally on the internet. They also make sure you that players and their data are protected, making sure the player is able to gamble in a safe and fair environment.
Many online casinos offer a cooling-off period which gives you the opportunity to gain your bearings. It may occur that you are not feeling confident enough about your gambling behaviour to continue playing.
Restricting yourself from gambling, even for a short period of time, is called a “cooling-off period” and can be found in the settings of your account at an online casino. Once activated, you will be restricted from wagering any bets for a period of 24 hours.
This is a good way of getting back on your feet again and reflect on your own gambling behaviour. Setting limitations on your account At many online casinos, there is a section available on the setting of your account that allows you to gamble more responsibly. We are going to take LeoVegas Casino as an example in this case, and go through the different limitations you can set for yourself. The different limitation options you can set for yourself are:
- A deposit limit - Making sure you won’t deposit more money than you can afford;
- Loss limit - Setting a loss limit makes sure you will be restricted from playing once you have hit a certain amount of losses;
- Set breaks - Same as a cooling-off period;
- Self-exclusion - Closing your account for an indefinite amount of time before you feel comfortable playing again.
In this section, we shall take a closer look at deposit limits and loss limits. These methods are necessary in order to limit your spending and gain control of your bankroll. Setting deposit and loss limits might be a good solution if you feel like you have lost control of how much you deposit or spend at an online casino.
Loss limits can be set up to any amount you deem necessary. Once the loss limit has been reached, you will automatically be restricted from wagering any more bets. The casino will then force you to wait for a certain period of time before you can start playing again.
A self-exclusion can be made by filling out an official form at government institutions. This might sound like a drastic measure, but can be life-saving for players who are up to their neck in problem gambling and have no other choice than to ban themselves from gambling any further.
Websites like GamStop offer a nationwide self-exclusion ban for British players who deem it necessary. By filling out the form, you can choose to restrict yourself from gambling at any online or land-based casino for a period of 6 months up to 5 years, and thus taking back control of your life.
Please note that you cannot undo or cancel your self-exclusion once you have filed the request. A self-exclusion request usually covers restrictions on all gambling operators that have been approved the the Gambling Authority, which includes land-based casinos. We do not recommend you seek out online casinos that have not been approved by official institutions dedicated to validating casinos, since you will end up further down the hole than you already are in that case.
Chapter 6: Avoiding Problem Gambling And Addiction - This is What You Can do
If you don’t notice the signs in time, you might already be in too deep. The first step towards recovering from gambling addiction, can be done by acknowledging you have a problem in the first place. After all, nobody is going to help you if you don’t want to be helped, whether we are talking about yourself or someone in your direct circle of acquaintances. In this section of our responsible gambling guide, we will go over the psychological aspects of gambling addiction.
Being aware of how problem gambling affects a person, allows you to figure out whether you can find these symptoms within your own behaviour. If you already suspect you might have a gambling problem, it is important that when reading this section you are being completely honest with yourself.
In case you might suspect a relative or friend is suffering from problem gambling, this might be a good place to learn more about their condition.
Psychological Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
There are a number of mental symptoms to look out for if you are in doubt whether or not you suffer from problem gambling. Pay attention to the following mental symptoms:
- Suicidal thoughts;
- Trouble concentrating;
- Sudden mood swings.
If you suffer from several of these symptoms at the same time, there is a very high chance that there are physical symptoms that come paired with your psychological problems. If any of the symptoms below sound familiar, as well as the symptoms above, there is a substantial chance you might suffer from a gambling addiction.
Physical Symptoms of Problem Gambling
If the mental symptoms of problem gambling described in the above section look familiar to you, you might want to look into the physical symptoms described in this section. Often mental ailments come paired with physical conditions at the same time, and problem gambling is no exception. Pay attention to the following physical symptoms:
- Feeling stressed;
- Weakened immune system;
- Excessive sweating;
- Stomach and muscle aches;
- Recurring headaches;
- Elevated heart rate or palpitations.
These physical symptoms are all indications that the body is under heavy pressure or stress. Listen carefully to what your body needs if you notice any of the symptoms described above. This applies regardless of whether you think you're suffering from problem gambling or gambling addiction.
If your body is expressing one or more of the described symptoms, it is trying to tell you that it needs help.
Different Types of Problem Gambling And Gambling Addiction
There are different types of online casino games, therefore problem gambling and gambling addiction can manifest themselves in different forms. However, the common denominator is quintessentially the same and the symptoms described in this section apply regardless of the type of game you are dependent on.
Games of chance are the first type of games described here that one might be addicted to.
These games do not involve any skills or knowledge in order to win and solely rely upon chance or RNG (Random Number Generator) to determine whether you win or not. Games that fall in the category are predominantly slot machines, scratch cards and all variations of roulette.
Skill-based games are the second type of game we will take a closer look at. These games are characterised by the implementation of strategy and is subjective to a learning curve. Players who practice skill-based games have the ability to get better at them by continuously playing and thus increasing their winnings. Some examples of skill-based casino games are poker, sports betting and chess.
Skill-based games are also more common among young adults between 18 and 35 years.
Easily available games can also be classified as a “type” of game. Think about slot machines in pubs, claw machines or the coin machine on the funfair. Readily available games make it harder to avoid gambling at all because a problem gambling sufferer cannot escape them. Research about gambling dependency has shown that there is a comparison between game availability and the risk of addiction
Fast versus Slow Pace is yet another factor of that might make a game attractive to problem gamblers. The faster a game functions, the more excitement and thrill it will give the players, as a way of instant gratification. Among fast-paced games, you might find poker and sports betting, while slow-paced games are Lottery games and Bingo games.
The last factor to influence gambling addiction is simply personal gain. Players gamble in the hopes of landing a big win and making quick money in a matter of seconds. This pursuit of massive amounts of (usually) unobtainable cash is the main contributor to why people might suffer from gambling addiction.
Studies have found that some people have a higher risk of developing a gambling addiction than others. There are many factors to consider but the most common myth is believed to be in people who tend to have an addictive personality. However, a research paper in Scientific American confirms with evidence that no particular personality type leads to a gambling addiction and a combination of traits can lead to addiction.
Characteristics of People With High Risk of Developing A Gambling Addiction
In this section, we’ll talk about the traits in people that put them at a higher risk of developing a gambling problem. The following is a list of contributing factors that if left unchecked, could develop in gambling addiction.
Related to People With Addictions
Numerous studies have concluded that genetic makeup has a significant role in developing any sort of addiction. Having a family member struggling from an addiction puts an individual at a higher risk in developing an addiction, however, genetic potential alone is no guarantee that a person will also suffer from an addiction.
Mental Health Disorders
Some people turn to gamble as a means to get away from reality and find solace in playing casino games or games of chance, especially from the comfort of their own home. People who suffer from anxiety should steer away from gambling due to the fact that it might be a coping mechanism to deal with their state of mind as it defeats the purpose of gambling being a recreational form of entertainment.
Obsessive and Compulsive Traits
Gambling addictions can develop when a person has little to no control over impulses and this can be a detrimental factor. Gambling turns problematic when a compulsion or sudden urge to play casino games is formed over a period of time as opposed to a single experience.
The worst thing for a gambler, as explained in the sections above, is to try to recover lost bets by placing larger and more frequent bets, resulting in an obsession to regain back lost bets.
Inability to Regulate Behaviour
Individuals with an inability to regulate certain behaviours, thoughts and emotions are at a higher risk of developing a gambling addiction. Studies have shown that the inability to regulate behaviour around the anticipation of receiving a reward is strongly linked to the development of addiction.
This means that when a player cannot control emotions relating to a losing bet, there is a higher tendency to chase lost bets which in turn can develop into problem gambling.
Risk Factors That Can Develop in a Gambling Addiction
There are certain risk factors that if left unchecked or are not monitored, can develop into gambling addiction. The list below includes factors that need to be considered to avoid problematic gambling and if you or a loved one are showing some of the following traits, it would be wise to take a step back from gambling:
- False perception of gambling due to an early big win;
- Ease of access to gambling portals;
- Unaware of the true odds of winning;
- No accountability for wins or losses;
- Going through a life crisis or big life changes, such as a change in jobs, divorce or loss of a loved one;
- Tendency to get bored or lonely;
- Have a history of impulsiveness or risk-taking behaviour;
- Have financial problems;
- Lack of interests or hobbies;
- Have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety;
- Have been abused or traumatized;
- Family member with a history of addictions.
The more of the above factors that apply to the person, the higher it is to develop a gambling addiction. If you take everything on this page into consideration and put the proper controls in place to monitor your gaming activity, you’ll be less likely to suffer from problem gambling.
Chapter 7 - Getting Help For Gambling Addiction
The most important thing when it comes down to problem gambling is to be true to yourself and to how you’re feeling. As explained in the sections above, gambling affects the general mood of the gambler, the ability to think of anything else but gambling, relationships, the financial situation and work, amongst other things.
Recognition is the first step in seeking help and you should keep in mind that there are numerous institutions and bodies in the UK that are dedicated in helping gamblers overcome their addiction. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help about addiction and in this section, we’ll be including all the places you can turn to when looking for a helping hand and ways to overcome the addiction.
Gambling Addiction Treatments
There are many ways to overcome a gambling addiction and while some people take it upon themselves to address the problem, it’s too much to handle for others. Any addiction can be overwhelming and knowing that there are people and dedicated bodies available to help is the most reassuring feeling to those suffering from problem gambling.
The first step in the path of course correction is accepting that a problem is present and you’re never alone. In this section, we’ll go through all the treatments and institutions available that are available to help problem gamblers get their life back on track.
This is the most recognised institution dedicated to problem gambling in the UK. Problem gamblers will find all sorts of help on the site which helps clarify the behaviour of people with gambling problems on many levels, how it affects friends and loved ones and tips on how to stay safe, whether gambling online or at a land-based casino.
Problem gambling has been around for decades and if you’re looking for in-depth information on how to stay safe and steer away from temptation, you’ll find everything you need in the ‘Safer Gambling’ section. Like everything in life, it’s essential to maintain control of situations and the more you know how you can protect yourself through self-exclusion and other measures, the easier it is to take control and maintain it.
GamCare National Helpline
The national gambling helpline is 0808 8020 133 and can be reached any time of the day, seven days a week. The support staff encourage problem gamblers to pick up the phone and chat about anything that gambling has put them through with the option of staying completely anonymous.
The experienced and highly trained staff have been dealing with gambling-related issues for decades and problem gamblers are guaranteed to find all the help they need. Help is only a phone call away.
GamCare Netline - Live Chat
Netline is a live chat service that is dedicated to people dealing with a gambling problem who prefer to seek help through the power of a keyboard as opposed to the traditional methods. It offers information and emotional support across Great Britain in total confidentiality.
Netline can be accessed through any mobile phone or tablet too and it’s incredibly comforting knowing that help is only a few taps away. Besides all the help from your advisor, you’ll also receive reading material that can be accessed anytime.
To start using Netline, simply follow this link and click on the yellow box. This will promptly open a safe and secure chatbox where you’ll be in direct contact with your advisor in total confidentiality. NetLine is available from 8am and Midnight, seven days a week but if you’re having trouble using the service, you can call an agent on 0808 8020 133.
If you are in a crisis and the NetLine or the Helpline is unavailable, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI). In an emergency, always dial 999. You can rest assured that NetLine will respect your confidentiality, however, there are some instances where safety is a concern and NetLine will need to seek help if:
- You ask for it directly;
- Your life or someone else’s life is in danger;
- You’re being hurt in any way by a person of trust, such as a friend or partner;
- You confess to hurting others.
The beauty of NetLine is that it can be used as frequently as needed and there is absolutely no limit on the help that you require. Some NetLines users might need to get in touch with an advisor in a crisis but others might need more frequent to kick their gambling problem. It all depends on the person and their needs.
The following is a testimonial to the work of NetLine Advisors from a problem gambler who managed to turn his life around with the support he received:
“Just wanted to thank each one of you for all the help and advice during my journey dealing with problem gambling. You all honestly saved my life during the early stages of my recovery and the support and time spent listening to me on the NetLine is much appreciated. Thank you for showing me the way to a safer and brighter direction of my life.”
Tips To Stop Gambling For Good
There are always best practices on how to stop problem gambling and taking matters into your own hands will require determination and a strong will for change. Eliminating the following and replacing them with healthier choices will not only overcome your gambling problem but will also improve your quality of life and for the ones around you.
When you get the urge to make a bet or play casino games, stop whatever you’re doing and do something to take your mind off gambling. Think of the consequences gambling will bring and the mood it will put you in. Deflect thoughts about gambling and do something different immediately. Train your brain to make the right decision every time, for a better life.
Without money, you won’t be able to bet. If you feel you’re at risk at relapsing, take money out of the equation by getting rid of credit cards, letting your partner or a close friend take control of your finances but if you want to take the ultimate precaution, you can always request the bank to make direct payments to you. Needless to say, to avoid all temptation, it’s strongly recommended that all betting accounts are closed.
Time For Games
Keeping yourself busy is one of the most important elements in kicking a habit as it keeps your mind off gambling activity. It’s important to schedule time for yourself that is not gambling-related and over time the urge will diminish up to a point where you won’t be thinking about gambling anymore.
Problem Gambling in Canada
Gambling addiction is taken very seriously throughout the world because of all the havoc it causes to the victim of addiction and to his/her loved ones. Problemgambling.ca is one of the main bodies for gamblers seeking help and the site offers voluminous resources for players looking to control their gambling urges.
From videos to quizzes, to helplines and mobile apps, you’re guaranteed to find help when you need it most and as explained in the sections above, there’s absolutely no shame in asking for a helping hand. The following are helplines across Canada that problem gamblers can get in touch with to help them overcome gambling urges and the addiction itself:
- British Columbia Problem Gambling Information and Referral Service - 1-888-795-6111
- Manitoba Gambling Helpline - 1-800-463-1554
- New Brunswick Problem Gamblers Hotline - 1-800-461-1234
- Nova Scotia Toll-Free Gambling Helpline - 1-888-347-8888
- Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline - 1-888-230-3505
- Prince Edward Island Gambling Addiction Treatment Program - 1-888-299-8399
- Québec – Gambling Help and Referral - (514)-527-0140
- Montreal and surrounding area - 1-800-461-0140
- Saskatchewan Problem Gambling Helpline - 1-800-306-6789