Playing at casinos or wagering on sporting events can be a thrilling pastime. But it’s important to gamble responsibly to keep your gaming enjoyable and never dangerous.

Find out about the signs of problem gambling and how to practice responsible gambling.

Responsible Gambling: The Fundamentals

There are two things you should never do when gambling: think of it as a source of income and bet with money that you can’t afford to lose.

Along with sticking to these fundamentals, we recommend using responsible gambling tools available at your casino. These include:

  • Checks – tell the casino how long you want to play for, and you will receive a prompt before your time is up
  • Deposit limits – you can ask the casino to limit the amount you deposit within a set timeframe
  • Access to gambling history – you can check out the stats of your transactions, deposits, and withdrawals to keep a tab on your gaming
  • Breaks – set a break period to cool off

To comply with Gambling Commission regulations, all online casinos that operate in the UK should provide you with the tools mentioned above and links to gambling help services.

What You Can Do to Control Your Gambling

Aside from the tools provided by online casinos, there are many responsible gambling methods you can adopt.

Set a Budget and Record Your Wins and Losses

Calculate what you can afford to gamble before starting and then record your wins or losses. You can use a free online Google Sheet or note down all your incomings and outgoings in a physical logbook.

Establish Your Limits

Deciding on a deposit limit within a set period and sticking to it can stop you from chasing losses. Calculate a sum that you can afford to lose, and never gamble more than that amount.

Open a Gaming Account

If you bet directly from a bank account you use to pay bills, track your wins and losses could be complicated. Therefore, we recommend opening a separate bank account or a digital wallet, such as PayPal or Skrill, to make controlling your budget easier.

Problem Gambling Signs

Many people who have gambling issues may not be aware of the extent of their problem. If you experience any of the signs listed below, seek professional help.

  • Thinking about gambling all the time
  • Having to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same buzz
  • Struggling to cut back on your gambling when aiming to do so
  • Feeling irritable when not gambling
  • Gambling to relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression
  • Chasing losses
  • Hiding the extent of your gambling by lying
  • Committing crime to fund your gambling
  • Borrowing money to gamble

How Casinos and Bookmakers in the UK Promote Responsible Gambling

The largest gambling providers in the UK formed the Betting & Gaming Council to set a code of practice. The members of this organisation represent 90% of UK betting and gaming businesses. They aim to try and prevent gambling addiction problems by adhering to set rules:

  • No advertising of gaming machines in bookmaker windows
  • No TV advertising of sign-up offers before 9 pm
  • All adverts must dedicate 20% of space to responsible gambling messages

The organisation established these rules to help achieve its five principal aims:

  1. Prevent underage gambling and protect young people
  2. Increase support for treatment of gambling harm
  3. Strengthen and expand codes of practice for advertising and marketing
  4. Protect and empower customers
  5. Create a culture of safer gambling

What’s more, online casinos always provide links to organisations that support problem gamblers to adhere to UK law.

Gambling Support Services

If you have been affected by gambling addiction, many organisations provide free support.

GamCare

GamCare offers free support to anyone in the UK affected by problem gambling. All of its services are confidential and non-judgemental. Its free helpline (0808 8020 133) is open from 8 am to 12 am and has a live chat service, a live text chatroom, and a forum – all available 24/7. Additionally, the charity organises meetings at various locations to provide in-person support.

For more details about the organisation, visit the GamCare website.

Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous has been providing support since 1957. Its website gives you information on meetings close to you, an online forum, chat rooms, and links to helpful reading material.

Visit the Gamblers Anonymous website for more info.

BeGambleAware

BeGambleAware offers free and confidential help online and via its helpline. Its employees are fully trained to educate you on how to control a gambling problem. The organisation can also teach you how to determine if someone close to you has a gambling problem.

This independent charity also gives you tools that can help treat a gambling problem, including software that can help you manage your money, self exclude and block your access to online gambling sites.

Visit BeGambleAware.

National Centre for Behavioural Addictions

This centre is home to the National Problem Gambling Clinic and the National Centre for Gaming Disorders. Visit its website to find links to both organisations. Each one can support you to help overcome gambling addiction.

Gordon Moody

The Gordon Moody charity has provided gambling addiction therapy services since 1971. Originally called Gordon House, Reverend Gordon Moody MBE set it up as a hostel for men suffering from addiction. However, the charity now provides various services online to help anyone with gambling problems.

Visit the Gordon Moody website for more info.

How To Know You Have a Gambling Problem

If you think you might already have or are developing a gambling problem, take this quick quiz. Simply answer the questions using this scoring guide below.

  • Each answer of ‘never’ scores 0
  • Each answer of ‘sometimes’ scores 1
  • Each answer of ‘often’ scores 2
  • Each answer of ‘always’ scores 3

If your total score is eight or higher, you have a gambling problem and should contact one of the gambling support services mentioned above.

  1. Do you bet with more money than you can afford to lose?
  2. Do you increase the amount of money you gamble to get the same feeling?
  3. Do you chase losses?
  4. Does your gambling cause you stress or anxiety?
  5. Do other people tell you that you have a gambling problem?
  6. Do you borrow money or sell possessions to fund your gaming?
  7. Does your gaming cause you financial problems?
  8. Does the way you gamble give you feelings of guilt?

What Happens When A Gambling Provider Breaks the Law?

If a gambling provider breaks the law, the UK Gambling Commission can revoke its license. This measure is a significant blow for a company because it would restrict it from operating in the UK – a market worth over £14 billion annually. That said, it has rarely happened.

However, the Gambling Commission has handed out substantial fines. In 2020, gambling companies paid out over £44 million in penalties.

Online Casinos That Have Broken Responsible Gambling Laws

888.com

Online gambling provider 888.com once paid a penalty of over £7.8million for failing to protect vulnerable customers. The regulator discovered various cases of misconduct which led to the fine. Firstly, due to a technical failure, over 7,000 customers who had chosen to self-exclude from their casino/poker/sports platform could still access their accounts via the site’s bingo platform. As a result, the commission decided that although 888 had set self-exclusion procedures, they had failed to enforce them adequately.

Also, 888 didn’t recognise signs of problem gambling behaviour by an individual. One patron staked over £1.3million, including £55k in stolen cash over a period of 13 months.

Betway

This gambling company owned by Super Group paid an £11.6m fine for accepting stolen money from “VIP” customers that displayed signs of gambling addiction. The trial found that Betway had taken £8m of deposits over four years from one customer who lost £4m. Although the operator’s employees had flagged the account as a potential risk over 20 times, staff accepted the gambler’s word that he could afford these losses. The investigation found that the customer’s account was only closed after the police contacted the company.

FAQ

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is when your gaming negatively affects your life and has become an unhealthy addiction. To keep your gaming fun, set yourself limits and keep track of how much you’re spending. It’s recommendable to use a separate account and deposit limits when playing at online casinos or making bets. If you think you might have a gambling problem, contact GamCare or other gambling addiction services in the UK to get professional help.

How can I gamble responsibly?

The best way to gamble responsibly is to set yourself limits. Before playing casino games or wagering on sports, you can impose restrictions to stop your gambling from becoming a problem. Also, remember that you should always treat gambling as entertainment and not a source of income.

How can I cut down on my gambling?

There are various ways you can cut down on your gambling. Thanks to laws set by the Gambling Commission, all establishments that offer betting services to UK customers must provide you with responsible gambling tools. These include deposit limits, gaming timeouts, and links to gambling addiction services. If you’re struggling to cut down, seek professional advice.

How can I protect my children from online gambling?

Online gambling sites adhere to strict rule regulations when verifying new players to protect children. However, if you want to stop your children from viewing these sites, change your browser settings to block gambling sites – most browsers give you this option.

How can I spot that someone has a gambling problem?

Becoming aware that someone has a gambling problem can be difficult. However, there are telltale signs that might show that someone has an unhealthy gaming habit. These range from lying to committing crimes to fund their habit. If the actions of someone close to you are starting to become a worry, visit gamcare.org.uk for advice.