Having a flutter on a scratch card or enjoying a game of bingo on a Saturday night can be great fun. Still, it’s important that online casinos and bingo sites ensure that players are gambling responsibly and that online gambling sites have information and tools to help players stay within 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. 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 player’s 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:
- Set parental controls on a child’s laptop, mobile, or tablet.
- Setting up parental filters on their home internet will stop certain devices from accessing sites unsuitable for those 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 casinos or 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. Players wanting to spend no more than a certain amount on their casino games or bingo can set their deposit limit accordingly and don’t need to worry about overspending. Once they have reached their deposit limit, no more funds can be added to their account.
Loss limits are slightly different but 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 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 consider all your losses over all the games, and once you’ve reached your loss limit, you’ll be unable to play any further.
Many casino sites now offer reality checks, which are notifications that pop up on the player’s screen after a certain amount of time has passed. These alerts remind players how long they have been playing and how much money they have won or lost.
Reality checks help players keep track of their gambling activity and make informed decisions about whether to continue playing or take a break. Some casino sites allow players to customise the frequency of their reality checks, while others have a set interval that cannot be changed.
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 recommended 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 consider installing internet site blockers to their devices to block access from online gambling sites.
Most self-exclusion options can be found in your site’s ‘my account’ section on any gaming site.
Safer gambling on-site information
All good UK gambling sites provide information and resources to help players gamble responsibly in a set area or website portal.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing gambling in the United Kingdom. It has established a number of guidelines and requirements to ensure that online casinos operating in the UK provide a safe and fair environment for players.
One of the main responsibilities of online casinos licensed by the UKGC is to promote responsible gambling. This includes providing players with information and resources to help them gamble safely, such as advice on how to set deposit limits and recognise the signs of problem gambling. Online casinos licensed by the UKGC must also have systems in place to detect and prevent problem gambling behavior.
The responsible gambling portals the casino sites now feature are part of a package to help players. Commonly they include Q&A’s, help videos and tools.
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 try a ‘win back’ any losses; if you’re depositing cash, you should only play with what you can afford to lose.
Use 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 losses in your account history. One of the key messages is that it is not just problem gamblers that need to set limits, all players are encouraged to do so.
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 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 ring true for you, you may be experiencing gambling issues and need to put preventative measures in place as soon as possible and get further help if required.
Help and support
Should any players worry about their online gambling habits and require help and support, many organisations are available to you.
Gamblers Anonymous is probably one of the most well-known support agencies made up of men and women who have joined together to help 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, which is there to offer advice, information, and free counselling if required, to players who need to treat their gambling problems. They have a range of services, including chat rooms, 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 online, at betting shops, bingo halls, or casinos. Visit www.begambleaware.org for more information.