Responsible Gambling can be considered a concept which consists of a series of requirements, rules, policies and guidelines that companies operating in the gambling industry are required to follow.
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These policies aim to protect everyone, but especially those people at risk of problem gambling, making their gambling harmful for themselves and the people around them. This can be obtained by ensuring that betting is perceived and treated as recreational fun, rather than a way to generate revenues. Regulatory bodies such as UKGC – UK Gambling Commission (Safer Gambling) or MGA – Malta Gaming Authority (Responsible Gambling Foundation) are there to offer support to gamblers while making sure that all operators licensed by them follow their stringent policies.
In this article, MaxFreeBets will provide information about the existing tools and associations that help gamblers to keep their gambling safe. Also, we look at what’s there to help those gamblers that have lost control of their spending. We, at MaxFreeBets, are committed to making sure that everyone gambles responsibly which is why our experts take into account the commitment towards responsible gambling of each online operator when reviewing them.
When Must Gambling be Considered a Problem?
Whenever betting stops being a form of entertainment for an individual and starts causing personal, social, health or financial troubles then that must be considered a problem and the person should seek for assistance (we’ll later provide all information about the associations helping out problem gamblers).
A survey run in May 2020 by YouGov and commissioned by BeGambleAware has concluded that 2.7% of the UK population might be subject to gambling problems and that 46% of the people with a gambling disorder have not made any use of the treatments and support available to them.
This tells us that often the main problem lies in the lack of self-awareness causing delays in determining when gambling has become a problem and so they are slow to take action. It also tells us that gamblers are unaware, or don’t make use, of the several tools they have available at all UKGC Licensed Operators such as Deposit Limits, Reality Checks and Self-Assessment Tests.
How Do I Determine if I Have a Gambling Problem?
A study published by the Harvard Medical School in 2018 suggests that anyone thinking they might have problems controlling their gambling should ask themselves 3 simple questions:
- During the past 12 months, have I become restless, irritable, or anxious when trying to stop and/or cut down on gambling?
- During the past 12 months, have I tried to keep my family or friends from knowing how much I gambled?
- During the past 12 months, did I have such financial trouble as a result of gambling that I had to get help with living expenses from family, friends, or welfare?
If the answer to just one of these questions is “Yes” then that must be interpreted as a clear sign of a gambling problem which might also be in its early phase.
Our experts have also done more research and collected the list of signs and behaviours for which everyone should look out for when determining whether or not they are in control of their gambling.
Warning Signs and Behaviour
As you might notice, some of them are in line with the 3 questions mentioned above and the same rule applies: if you can recognise one of these behaviours/signs as part of your own behaviour, then seeking assistance is necessary:
- Often spend more of your money on gambling than originally planned.
- Get frustrated if you are disturbed when gambling.
- Lose all track of time and don’t realise how long you have been gambling for.
- Keep your gambling a secret from those closest to you.
- Keep gambling, even when you are on a positive run and go on until you lose all your funds.
- Keep believing that a big win is just around the corner.
- Think that your losses are your fault because you were not good or experienced enough at betting.
- Spend a good part of your time gambling or thinking about when you can gamble next.
- Play higher and higher stakes to feel a higher level of excitement.
- Hide how much you spend on gambling from those around you.
- Prioritise gambling over everything and everyone else.
While these are quite clear and should enable everyone to run a self-assessment, our experts came to the conclusions that an online test might be more effective, especially if it allows gamblers to have multiple options when answering specific questions. For this reason, they have collected the top 5 self-assessment tests for our readers.
Find out by Running Through Online Tests
BeGambleAware and GamCare are among a number of associations that help people with gambling problems from beginning to end; from assisting them to determine whether or not they have a gambling problem to providing support and treatments to problem gamblers.
In order to make sure that the contact with another person does not represent a barrier for assessing the status of one’s own gambling, they created self-assessment online tests available for everyone and, of course, free to use.
They differ from each other in terms of the number of questions and the type of answers. However, the final objective is the same: to determine whether a person could be (or become) a problem gambler or not.
Here you can find the list of online self-assessment tests available at your fingertips:
It is important to understand that taking one of these tests is just the first step in a series of actions a gambler should take to gain full control of his spending. Our experts have taken their research a step further by looking at the Responsible Gambling tools made available to punters by gaming operators to limit and control one’s own gambling activity.
Taking Control of Your Gambling
As mentioned several times in our pages, betting with a UKGC licensed operator is vital if you want to be entertained in a legal and regulated environment. The UKGC Safer Gambling program ensures that users are empowered with the knowledge and tools to manage and control their gambling by providing clear rules and guidelines to operators. These same operators are subject to heavy fines if the rules are not followed.
The most important rule for a safe gaming environment is making sure that certain tools are made available to users such as:
- Deposit Limits – To allow punters to set a limit to their deposit in a given period of time (e.g. £100 a week)
- Reality Checks – Enable gamblers to receive an alert if they spend more than a specified amount of time playing on the site (e.g. playing for 60 consecutive minutes)
- ID Verification – Protect individuals from identity theft but also problem bettors from playing under another person’s name
- Timeout (also called “Cool off” or “Cool off period”) – Empowering users to block their gambling activity for a given period (24 hours, 7 days or Custom)
- Self-Exclusion – Specifically created for the problem gamblers, it allows them to close the account for 6 months or 1, 2 or 5 years.
Some operators have decided to go the extra mile in their efforts to keep their users safe by adding other tools like:
- Loss Limits – Same as Deposit Limits but it allows punters to set a limit on their losses rather than deposits.
- Session Timer – Similar to Reality Check, with the difference being that the user doesn’t have the choice to keep on playing and must abandon the session.
- Product Blocking – Enable punters to block a specific area/product of the gaming sites (e.g. horse racing or casino) so that no more bets can be placed from his account on to that particular product.
- Budget Calculators – To give users a better understanding of their income, outgoings and gambling spend to determine whether there is a need for reviewing the budget dedicated to gambling or not
With all the above tools as well as the protection and safety guaranteed when betting on UKGC licensed sites, all customers should have total control of their gambling activity. However, we do know that gambling is often associated with emotions and therefore we must understand that it might be difficult to gain full control.
For this reason, our experts have concluded their research with the analysis of the options available to those punters who have unfortunately lost control of their gambling.
Asking for Help – Where to Go
Over the past 20 years, there have been huge improvements when it comes to safe gambling. Some of the milestones have been reached thanks to the effort of associations which were created to help problem gamblers, but have had the sense to understand that there was room to act before gambling could become a problem.
However, as we have previously seen, there are still people struggling to successfully manage their betting activity and end up harming themselves and the people around them. For those people, all these associations keep offering support and assistance, making sure that everyone can access it, in any form or way (e.g. anonymously, online-only, private home visits, etc).
In order to win the battle against an addiction, it is important that all parties are involved. If a problem gambler is not able to identify his own issues and, hence, seek assistance then the addiction will never be beaten. On the other hand, if the associations don’t ensure that there are the least amount of barriers between them and the person looking for help, then the assistance process is likely to be abandoned before help is fully given.
The main associations offering support are:
- Gamblers Anonymous: 0330 094 0322 or gamblersanonymous.org.uk
- CNWL National Problem Gambling Clinic: 020 73817722 or cnwl.nhs.uk
- Gam Anon: 08700 50 88 80 or gamanon.org.uk
- Gordon Moody: 01384 241292 or gordonmoody.org.uk
- National Debtline: 0808 8084000 or nationaldebtline.co.uk
- GamCare: 0808 8020133 or gamcare.org.uk
- BeGambleAware: 0808 8020 133 or begambleaware.org
- GamStop: gamstop.co.uk
Other associations have also been created to try to regulate other areas and industries similar to gaming such as ➅EGBA that has created guidelines for responsible advertising or ➆CAP that provides a code for affiliate marketing.
It is fair to remember that gaming operators have also recently started spending a lot of resources on responsible gambling, in an attempt to hit back against allegations saying that they haven’t protected their problem gamblers, but have often pushed them to bet more, which sits alongside the bad reputation often associated with the gambling industry (The Guardian, “Britain’s betting industry is out of control”).