Having a flutter on a scratch card or enjoying a game of bingo on a Saturday night can be great fun, but it’s important that online casino and online bingo sites ensure that players are gambling responsibly and that online gambling sites have information available and tools to hand to help players stay within in their limits. So what is responsible gambling and what do sites do to help players gamble responsibly?
First and foremost, players, by law, must be at least 18 years old to gamble and therefore play on these sites. Just as you would have to be over 18 to gamble in a casino or over 18 to play bingo in a bingo hall, the same law applies to online casinos and online bingo sites.
Gambling sites will carry out checks to ensure players are of legal age and will display several notifications stating that players must be over 18 to register. Age verification checks are carried out on all players at the point of registration and anyone trying to fund their accounts with ‘at risk payment methods’ will be locked out until further checks are carried out and the site can verify the players age.
As well as online casino and bingo sites carrying out checks, parents are also encouraged to be aware of what sites their children are accessing online. Ways they can do this are:
- Setting up parental controls on a child’s laptop, mobile or tablet.
- Setting up parental filters on their home internet which will stop certain devices from accessing sites unsuitable for under 18s. (Gambling sites are all labelled so that filtering systems recognise and block sites).
- Ensure you never leave your laptop unlocked and unattended.
It is also worth noting that if anyone under 18 is found to be gambling online, then any winnings may be forfeited and they could be reported to the police.
Although many will play in online casino’s or online bingo sites for free or for a bit of fun, once you start depositing money it is important that you only spend what you can afford, or actually, what you can afford to lose! This is why you will see you can set deposit limits and loss limits.
Depositing limits allow players to put a cap on the amount they deposit into their accounts and can usually be set up as a daily, weekly or monthly limit. For players wanting to spend no more than a certain amount on their casino games or bingo, they can set their deposit limit accordingly and don’t need to worry about over spending. Once they have reached their deposit limit, no more funds can be added to their account.
Loss limits are slightly different put are still a great way to ensure players are gambling responsibly. Loss limits can be set to ensure that if a player has a run of bad luck and starts losing, they can’t lose more than the limit set. So if for example, a player has deposited and then won and has a large amount of cash or bonuses to play with, if they’ve set a loss limit they won’t be able to lose everything in one go. This also helps discourage players from trying to win back their losses.
Loss limits can usually be set up to vary among different types of games too as online casinos and online bingo sites are aware that players may be willing to lose more on certain games than others. You can also set a total loss limit where a site will take into consideration all your loses over all the games and once you’ve reached your loss limit, you’ll be unable to play any further.
If you ever feel you need a break from gambling or are worried that you may be playing too much and it has got out of hand, you should be able to ‘self exclude’ yourself from sites for a set period. This means that your account will be frozen and you won’t be able to play for a certain amount of time, usually a 6 month minimum period.
On some sites, you may be able to set up self exclusions for particular games, so if a player is prone to uncontrolled betting on poker for example, but not on slots, they will be excluded from that product but still able to play others.
If you choose to self exclude from a particular product or from gambling altogether, it’s recommend you do it on all sites where you hold accounts.
If a player has self excluded for a period, it’s also recommended they un-follow any sites from Facebook or Twitter and also consider installing internet site blockers to their devices to block access from online gambling sites.
Most self exclusion options can be found in your ‘my account’ section of the site you’re on.
Gambling responsibly means you should always see it as a bit of fun and play in moderation, it should never be used as a way of trying to make money. Try to understand a little more about the games you’re playing and learn about the odds of winning and losing. Players should never trying a ‘win back’ any losses and if you’re depositing cash, you should only play with what you can afford to lose.
Make use of the deposit or loss limits to ensure you’re never tempted to spend or lose more than what you can afford and keep track of your deposits, winnings and loses in your account history.
If you’re gambling online, it’s also useful to regularly assess how you view playing. Do you gamble as an escape from reality? Has anyone criticised your gambling? Do you try and win back your losses or play until you have used up all possible funds, even the money put aside to pay for a birthday present or petrol?
More warning signs that you may not be gambling responsibly are that you’re skipping studies or work to gamble, you’re lying to family or friends about the amount of time and money you spend or you lose interest in activities you once enjoyed in order to spend that time gambling. Have you ever stolen money to fund gambling or when you lose, are you desperate to gamble again as soon as possible? Has gambling made you feel suicidal or depressed?
If any of the above are ring true with you, you may be experiencing issues with gambling and will need to put preventative measures in place as soon as possible and get further help if required.
Help and support
Should any players be worried about their online gambling habits and require help and support, there are many organisations available to you.
Gamblers Anonymous is probably one of the most well known support agency made up from men and women who have joined together to offer help to others with their gambling issues. There are regional groups across the world and you can find out more information by visiting www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk
Another group is GamCare, who are there to offer advice, information and free counselling if required, to players who are needing to treat their gambling problems. They have a range of services including chat rooms and forums and a support phone line. To get in contact with GamCare, call
0808 8020 133 or visit their website www.gamcare.org.uk
You may have also seen the Gamble Aware logo on many online casino or bingo sites. Gamble Aware provides advice and information on how to gamble responsibly and it’s aimed at all types of gambling whether it’s online, at betting shops, bingo halls or casinos. Visit www.begambleaware.org for more information.