How to Gamble Responsibly: A Guide to Safe and Enjoyable Gambling

For a long time, gambling in online casinos has been thrilling and enjoyable entertainment and recreation for millions of individuals worldwide. The rush of excitement, the anticipation of whether you’ll be going home with a big win, and the risk factor all contribute to a precarious yet exhilarating and euphoric experience. However, betting and similar activities can be highly addictive. o

Even though most players gamble safely and responsibly, surveys have found that between 0.5% to 3% of the gambling community can develop severe problem gambling habits, sending those affected into a downward spiral. These numbers have experienced a rise in the last couple of years due to the increased accessibility that online gambling platforms have brought with them. This is why it is important to understand the sheer importance of responsible gambling and ensure that it remains a fun source of recreation and is treated as such.

Written by

Matthew Gover
Fact checked by Farah Jassawalla
clockReading time 10 minread

What Does Responsible Gambling Mean?

The term ‘responsible gaming’ or ‘responsible gambling’ refers to the concept that individuals who choose to stake their money on any form of gambling are aware that it is solely for their pleasure and entertainment. While simultaneously acknowledging their personal circumstances, remaining fully aware of the risks, managing their gambling behaviour, exercising control, and maintaining a steady balance in all other facets of life to avoid harming themselves or their personal relations.Responsible gambling

Given the financial nature of gambling, it is almost natural for problems to arise from a player’s uncontrolled and unsupervised involvement with one or multiple forms of betting. Though most people are well-aware of the potential adverse effects that may arise due to gambling and enjoy it in a self-controlled fashion, others find it difficult to make informed decisions due to their circumstances, age, mental health, or substance/alcohol abuse and end up with an addiction. This is known as problem gambling or gambling addiction and can lead to reduced quality of life, financial problems, relationship problems, conflicts at home, deteriorating mental and physical health, etc.

Hence, encouraging responsible gambling is of utmost importance as it enables people to make informed decisions regarding their participation in gambling activities and, if harm has occurred, to provide access to gambling help services.

Our Pledge to Responsible Gambling

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Gambling Addiction And Its Warning Signs

Gambling becomes a problem when you find it difficult to stop, compulsively spend more than you can afford, and when it influences other areas of your life negatively. A survey estimated that 0.5% of the adult population in the UK are the victims of problem gambling, 3.8% are gambling at at-risk levels, while 7% are negatively affected by other people's gambling.

But how can you identify when gambling goes from a harmless and fun activity to a crippling addiction? Such erratic and compulsive behaviour can manifest itself in numerous ways. Here are some of the symptoms and warning signs that can help you identify when you or your loved ones are slipping into a pattern of problem gambling:

Hiding Or Lying About Your Gambling Habits

The core symptom of addiction of any form is lying or hiding it from others, and problem gambling is no exception to this fact. The compulsion to gamble becomes so strong that the individual is willing to go to any lengths to cover up their habits. 

This typically includes lying about their whereabouts and what they are doing to avoid being questioned or accused. Compulsive gamblers can even lie to themselves to rationalise their behaviour, even if the reasons they use don’t make sense and aren’t consistent with their values

You Gamble More Than You Can Afford To

A casual gambler tends to spend extra money to fuel their gambling activities and stop when their losses exceed more than they are willing to spend. But when they start betting away more than they can afford to lose, it's a prominent sign that they have lost control over their gambling habits.

Instead, they believe that a life-changing win is right around the corner. Money is not the only thing pathological gamblers are willing to give up in pursuit of chasing gambling highs; work and relationships also take a lower priority.

You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms When Not Gambling

For many, gambling is a form of escape from traumatic circumstances, emotional pain, stressful work conditions, or domestic issues. They feel the desire to put their mind off such situations and be engulfed in something. As a result, they turn to casino gambling or sports gambling and think they need to bet to feel normal or happy again. Withdrawal symptoms can appear when a person with a gambling addiction stops gambling, even for a day or mere hours. 

These withdrawal symptoms may include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Irregular sleep cycle

You Gamble Until You Run Out Of Money

A pathological gambler’s obsession with gambling becomes so strong that even bankruptcy doesn’t stop them from exercising such behaviour. They may also burn through their savings and gamble away their paychecks, childcare expenses, rent money, grocery money, and any cash available to them, regardless of the consequences that may arise because of their neglect. As a result, they end up going broke with no safety nets to fall back into. 

Responsible Gambling

You Borrow Money To Pay For Gambling

Once compulsive gamblers start gambling for longer periods, they become obsessed and feel compelled to play until they’ve spent every last cent they own. This leaves them with nothing to gamble with, and in their desperation to continue gambling, they are willing to go to any length to get their hands on more money. 

They put off all financial matters or downright ignore them, often convincing themselves with the belief that luck will surely find them and they will be able to strike gold and deal with all their financial issues.

This leads them to borrow money or take out loans to spend on gambling. Initially, they utilise normal ways of leveraging cash, such as bank loans, a line of credit or re-mortgaging their houses. But later on, they may resort to ultra-high interest loans or even illicit loan sharks. 

You Try To Recover Losses By Gambling More

When problem gamblers ignore the rules of problem gambling, their losses continue to pile up. Regardless, they think they are so close to landing a massive win that with one more round, they will be able to recoup prior losses. This is known as loss-chasing; it is a very dangerous mindset and is considered a key criterion for gambling disorder.

Your Family And Friends Voice Their Concerns

Even though gambling addicts try to cover up their behaviour by lying or deflection, friends and family members eventually catch onto the fact that something isn’t right, but by the time they do, it’s usually due to the damage already done. When the affected individual’s relatives express concern, the former are typically in denial. It’s hard for them to believe what they hear is true because they’ve been deceiving themselves for so long.

When the severity of the addiction and the problems it has caused becomes apparent to family and friends, they fail to understand why problem gamblers can’t just give it up at once and become more insistent. Pathological gamblers typically interpret this as nagging and end up isolating themselves and pushing away family and friends. 

Other Warning Signs And Symptoms

  • Declining attendance and performance at work, as gambling has taken over most of your life
  • Committing or considering committing a crime to finance gambling
  • Making repeated efforts to control or stop gambling but being unable to do so
  • Being preoccupied with gambling and losing interest in all other hobbies, and ignoring familial responsibilities and events
  • Begin to place larger bets and, more often, feel a rush of adrenaline and dopamine
  • Constantly thinking about how and where to place the next bet or play the next game or which sport to bet on.

Tips On How To Gamble Responsibly

Following are some tips and strategies that can help you gamble responsibly, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player:

Always Treat Gambling As Paid Entertainment

Gambling is simply a form of entertainment that people seek during their leisure time, being fully aware of the risk and expecting to lose as a cost of that entertainment. The fact of the matter is that you should treat gambling purely as paid entertainment. While gambling can be extremely fun, remember that it isn’t a good way to earn an income

There’s only a small percentage of gamblers who are able to make consistent profits, but that, too, requires lots of time and effort to hone all the necessary skills. So, if you are planning on gambling with the hope that you’ll earn enough to support yourself and your needs, you may want to re-evaluate your strategy.

Set Time Limits In Advance

You can save yourself from the snare of problem gambling by setting up a time limit before you start betting. Time has a direct relation with how much you spend while gambling. This means that the less time you spend on betting, the less money you’ll end up investing. Doing so will enable you to prioritise and make time for other important events and activities in your life. Therefore, it’s a great idea to gamble in your spare time and put some limits in place for the time you spend on it while also taking regular breaks in between.

Set Up A Fixed Budget

When gambling, it can be difficult to get a handle on the funds you spend in the heat of the moment. There’s nothing wrong with spending your spare money on gambling, but it’s another story if you start risking cash from your savings or personal expenses. This is why it’s vital that you allocate a fixed amount of money to finance your gambling. This bankroll can be in the form of daily, weekly, or monthly limits. What’s important is that you actually follow through with them and gamble with money you can afford to lose. If you've exhausted your bankroll, it's time to stop playing.

Never Gamble When Under The Influence

Gambling when under the influence of alcohol is not recommended, as it can negatively impact your judgment and impair your ability to make logical and sensible decisions. The best way to avoid such a situation would be to quit drinking altogether while betting. But since some people gamble to relieve day-to-day stress, they can indulge in a couple of drinks, but only if they can handle their liquor well. Remember always to practice moderation so you don’t make a wrong decision, go beyond the money/time limits, or do something you might regret later. 

Don’t Chase Your Losses

As a gambler, it is important to understand that gambling is a high-risk activity where winning and losing is an everyday occurrence, the latter being more common given the house edge. Therefore the concept of losing money while gambling is not a surprising one. You need to realize that luck is not on your side, and instead of chasing your losses, you should call it a day. If you continue betting with the hope of compensating for the lost cash, it can cause you to incur more significant losses and develop obsessive gambling problems

Choose The Correct Casino

Always choose platforms that promote and encourage responsible gambling, whether you prefer to gamble online or at a brick-and-mortar casino. Ensure that these casinos offer all the necessary tools and features to help you adopt such an approach. These tools can also prevent you from developing problem gambling and seek help and counselling from appropriate organisations.

What To Do If You Think You Have A Gambling Problem

Curbing a gambling addiction is a difficult task and will require a constant conscious effort on your part. Here are a few preventive measures that can help you in your journey:

Admit You Have A Problem

The most crucial step when it comes to facing any form of addiction is admitting (to yourself and others) that you have a problem. Doing so acknowledges that something is wrong and needs to change. This can help you lay down the foundations for an open, healthy mindset to confront underlying issues that may lead to gambling activities.

Limit And/Or Block Your Access To Gambling

Remove apps, block websites, and avoid triggers that can tempt you to relapse. While putting limitations can be helpful, some people find blocking their access a much more effective and long-term solution to compulsive gambling. You can even use GAMSTOP, a self-exclusion tool, to block hundreds of betting sites automatically. 

Join A Support Group

When you realize that your gambling habits are becoming problematic, you can seek help from support groups and organisations run by professionals built explicitly around the needs of individuals with gambling addiction. Support groups offer a safe space for problem gamblers to share their problems and meet others with similar experiences and pasts. It is comforting to know that you’re not alone in your struggles and there’s a whole support network you can share with and rely on during tough times.

Responsible gambling

Keep Yourself Busy

Withdrawal is the hardest part of any addiction, and problem gambling is no exception to this fact. To overcome the craving and improve your overall state, you can rekindle old hobbies or look for healthy alternatives to keep yourself busy and replace the time you spend gambling with something that is more fulfilling, enjoyable, and less risky. Some positive alternatives may include meditation, yoga, travelling, volunteering, spending more time with loved ones, exploring new hobbies, etc.

Utilize Responsible Gambling Tools And Features

Most reputable gambling sites offer various responsible gambling tools and features to keep a customer’s gambling experience safe and help them deal with a gambling addiction. These measures can enable you to voluntarily limit your involvement, access, and spending. Here are some of the most common responsible gambling tools you’ll come across at betting platforms:

  • Loss Limits: If you have enabled this feature and lose the specified amount of money you have designated, you will not be permitted to bet on anything else for a predetermined period.
  • Deposit Limits: This tool restricts the amount of money you are able to credit your account with on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Self-exclusion: With this feature, you can ban yourself from logging onto your gambling account and participating in any related activity for a predetermined period of time. This is a long-term self-ban and can last for a period of 6 months or five years (maybe longer). 
  • Session Limits: This tool can allow you to specify how long you wish to spend on an iGaming platform during a session. After that time limit is up, you will be logged out from your account for some time.

Which Organisations Help With Problem Gambling in Ireland?

Several organisations in the UK and Ireland have made it their mission to help people with problem gambling.

Underage Gambling and Its Prevention

Underage Gambling occurs when minors use gaming and betting platforms services. In most countries, gambling below a certain age is prohibited, with 18 years being the most common, and rightfully so. Several studies have shown that minors exposed to gambling have a much higher probability of developing a crippling addiction. 

Most online betting platforms have now made age verification compulsory for their customers to avoid such situations. During the registration phase, this process is usually carried out by verifying a user’s details against government documents, such as ID cards, driving licenses or passports. Their account is suspended or blocked if an individual's age doesn’t match up with the region’s legal gambling age.

The blocking software and apps listed above can prevent gambling sites' access. Additionally, there are also more website blockers specifically for websites with adult content, including:

  • Net Nanny - Net Nanny has multiple features to safeguard minors. Including activity alerts, restraining screen time, blocking specific sites and apps, concealing crass language, and an 18-category filter to restrict adult content from being accessed. Net Nanny can be downloaded on Android, Mac, and Windows.
  • Cyber Patrol - Recognised as one of the best parental supervisory software, Cyber Patrol has partnered with Net Nanny and Content Watch to stop children and youth from accessing adult websites. It can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Android.
  • Cyber Sitter - Apart from stopping malicious access from malware, Cyber Sitter can easily block adult websites and filter out these websites from search results with a safe search option. Available for download on Mac, Android and Windows.
  • Cybernanny - Offers additional information on how to keep children safe online.

Facts About Gambling In Ireland

According to the first report published by the Health Research Board on Irish Gambling Trends, research has shown some of the following main findings:

  • Sports betting, especially horse or dog racing, is among the most common form of punting online or when at a bookmaker.
  • Other popular forms of gambling are the lottery or scratchcards bought in person by four-in-ten punters.
  • Comparing this survey to a 2014/15 survey, the amount of people gambling has notably decreased from 2,77,000 to 1,900,000.

Further research also shows that:

  • Over €5 billion a year is spent on gambling.

Reach Out if You're Struggling

Player safety is paramount to us. If you're struggling or are unsure, you can always reach out to a team member - we are on hand to offer help and guidance should you need it.

Matthew gover

Matthew GoverVerified

iGaming & Sports Specialist

IGaming, sports and cryptocurrency content writer - Matthew is a jack of all trades! He's been doing it all for the past 5 years.

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checkCircle Fact checked by: Farah Jassawalla
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