Responsible Gambling

As much as we and pretty much everyone in the world loves gambling, there’s an inescapable and sometimes crushing fact about it; like most regulated behaviours it’s dangerous. Gambling is addictive and damaging to lives, well being and mental health if it becomes so. This is why casinos and licensing jurisdictions put a lot of emphasis on responsible gambling within their licensing conditions.

Responsible Gambling: Be Aware & Know Your Limits!

More recently, problem gambling has become a bit of a hot topic in the UK, receiving a lot of attention from the media, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), prominent research bodies and NGOs. If you’re not up to date on what responsible gambling is, the responsible gambling measures you can access to monitor and limit your gaming behaviours, and where you can get support then keep reading as we’ll cover it all right here.

What is Responsible Gambling?

Responsible gambling is being aware of the dangers of gambling and taking steps to prevent and monitoring your gambling behaviour to ensure it doesn’t become an addictive or damaging practice.

What is Problem Gambling?

“Problem gambling is defined as behaviour related to gambling which causes harm to the gambler and those around them. This may include family, friends and others who know them or care for them.” (UKGC, 2019a). This is a very broad quote. The harm can be of any kind; physical, mental, financial, etc. It also recognises that both the behaviours associated with problem gambling and harmful outcomes can be multifaceted and complicated in many cases. They are also not limited to the player alone. Let’s look at some examples of problem gambling in real situations to clarify:
  • Chris spends his rent money gambling, he is causing himself harm as he is betting with money he cannot afford to lose, potentially making his, and his family’s housing situation precarious. The stress if Paul loses his rent money and debt may also cause financial and mental harm.  Paul is classified as a problem gambler and needs to reach out to his casino and outside support services for immediate assistance.
  • Margret likes to gamble, usually she does it whilst sober and sticks to her predetermined limits. However, every now and again, she’ll sit down to play after one drink too many, and find it hard to stop. She plays over budget, but is still within the amount she can afford to gamble (she is not spending money that is already earmarked for a purpose like food or rent). Although this is not a common occurrence, Jess is at high-risk or problem gambling. She gambles after drinking which impairs judgement, goes over budget, and finds it hard to stop. Whilst this behavior is currently infrequent, it is at high risk of escalating. Jess should affect deposit limits and time limits to her casino account and take regular self-assessment. She should also stop gambling after drinking and may also benefit from using online help services.
You should always be able to remain in control of your gambling and only ever bet what you can afford, not chasing losses or gambling when emotional (BeGambleAware, 2019).

2 out of 10 People in the UK Struggle with Problem Gambling

According to recent gambling data collected by the UKGC, National Health Survey and NatCen, over 50% of the UK population are gamblers (meaning they have participated in gambling in the last 12 months, UKGC, 2018a). Problem gambling can be broken down into risk categories and estimates for the UK, based on survey data from (Heinze, 2018 are as follows:
  • 2.4% of the population are low-risk gamblers
  • a further 1.1% are moderate-risk gamblers
  • and 0.7% of the UK’s total adult population are problem gamblers
In actual figures rather than statistics The Guardian (Davis, 2017) reported this as over 2 million people in the UK are affected by some form of problem gambling, with over 400,000 reported as having a serious habit. Sadly, despite all gambling being illegal for those under 18 years of age in the UK, problem gambling still affects youths with 14% of survey respondents having gambled in the past week and a 1.7% rate of problem gamblers in the 11-16 yrs age group (UKGC, 2018b).

Did you know?

More men than women gamble, and in every risk category, the amount of male problem gamblers or at-risk gamblers is much higher than female (disproportionately so), but across both genders, those aged 24-36 are most vulnerable to problem gambling (UKGC, 2019a).

How to Diagnose Problem Gambling: Take a Self Check-up

With all this attention, research and funding in and for gambling help services, there’s a wealth of self-testing, questionnaires that you can take freely to check your gambling habit and see how at risk you are of problem gambling. Our favourite comes from NHS England (2017) and asks you to score yourself based on your gambling behaviours. You should take a responsible gambling self-assessment regularly to check on your gambling habits. Check your status, take the test now!

How Do Casinos and The UKGC Protect Players?

Despite responsible and problem gambling being a hot topic and licencing conditions for casinos, it is still a huge concern affecting large amounts of the UK population. The UK Gambling Commission, who is in charge of all research, legislation and regulation for the UK gambling market was established in 2005 (although much legislation came before, there was no specialised government body in charge). The UKGC sets out the core casino responsibilities to players, which include, but are not limited to:
  • Transparency and fairness in gaming and outcomes
  • Protection of data and privacy
  • Protection of funds
  • Operator accountability
  • Protection from harm
Again, protection from harm is a very broad category, and it is here that responsible gambling belongs with the UKGC - stipulating what tools, measures, support and information casinos must provide on problem gambling. This is laid out in guidelines, called the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCPs), which all casinos who are licensed by the UKGC are bound to meet, and audited upon along with other criteria. Therefore, it is the casinos who are charged with the larger part of player protection, as they are the party offering the service and held accountable for breaching the LCCPs. The LCCP is a living document and allows the UKGC to update and change the conditions and code as and when they feel it is required meaning they can be quick to act to market changes and penalise those casinos who fall short on informing or protecting their players.

Recent Changes

Recently, there have been some prominent examples of this in action: In 2018, The Gambling Commission and Advertising Standards Authority came together to overhaul of the conditions under which casinos can advertise their products. They updated the marketing area of the LCCPs to address and tackle misleading terms, how advertisements are placed, what they can contain, the types of messages they send - i.e. they should not be irresponsibly promoting gambling and much more. However, from the figures we presented to you earlier, it’s obvious that problem is still an issue for a lot of players, and in fact, many do not know the tools available to them at the casino to help monitor and limits gambling behaviours. There has also been a greater focus on the relationship between problem gambling and mental health. Using data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2007), the UKGC found that “5% of problem gamblers had attempted suicide in the previous year and that 5% of people who had attempted suicide in the previous year were problem gamblers” (UKGC, 2019b). In response, this spurred the UKGC to design and launch in April 2019, The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. This 3-year strategy aims to bring a lasting impact to the reduction of gambling harm by bringing together the UKGC and Charities, continuing research and regulation and helping to raise awareness, treat and support problem gamblers. Educate Yourself About Responsible Gambling One of the biggest issues with managing problem gambling is awareness. The great news is, you’re here reading this so you are aware that problem gambling exists, but the drive to promote responsible gambling tools still has far to go, and there remains a vast number of gamblers who do not know of or use responsible gambling measures supplied by casinos. Use and Awareness of Gambling Management Tools (UKGC, 2019a) So let’s take a closer look at how you can use the tools that casinos provide to track, manage and make sure your gambling behaviour is healthy.

What Casino Tools Can I Use to Combat Problem Gambling and Encourage Responsible Gambling?

All UK casino accounts are fine-tuned to the sound of responsible gambling and you’ll find a range of tools at your disposal as well as a support team trained to deal with problem gambling. Whilst some tools can be activated online, others require you to reach out and speak to your casino directly to make effective. Casino tools include:
  • Time Limits You should and can use these to set time limits on your casino sessions, as well as monitor how much time you’ve spent playing or betting on a certain game.
  • Deposit Limits and Account Tracker Before you start betting online, it is always a stellar idea to work out and set yourself a budget. Remember, you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Stick to your budget, no matter what happens whilst you play,  and track your deposits over time in your casino account. This will help you detect any changes in behaviour and stick to your financial goals.
  • Time-out and Self-exclusion If you need to take a break from your casino, then put your account on temporary or permanent hiatus with a self-exclusion or short-term time-out. With most online casinos, you’ll need to contact them direct to set up a self-exclusion period. This is a reversible measure and you have control over the length of time it is in place for.
  • Permanent Account Closure If you reach the point of needing to close your casino account for good, effecting a ban for yourself at your current, and any networked/sister sites they may operate then you need to get in contact with your casino to arrange your account closure. You can request that they will cease all contact with you, so you will not receive any tempting marketing material or general contact. This measure is final and cannot be reversed.

Who Else Can Help? Getting Outside Assistance for Problem Gambling

The UK is keen to target all forms of problem gambling and offers funding to NGOs who provide this service. Getting help and assistance outside of the casino is key if you’re experiencing problem gambling and is an essential step to regaining control of your gambling behaviour. As problem gambling can also affect family members, some support services extend to them. Use the following links to do directly to independent gambling support services:

Play Safe and Know When to Stop

Responsible gambling is about knowing when to stop and being in control of how you gamble. Every player who gambles should be using the responsible gambling tools provided by casinos to monitor how they pay and play and be aware of the risk they expose themselves to. You can find some top tips for staying in control of your betting behaviour here and remember, when the fun stops, STOP!