The era of online casino games has meant one of the world’s oldest and most popular pastimes – gambling – can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. While it’s exciting to play the various games and win money, responsible gambling is essential for ensuring the popular pastime doesn’t become a problem. While we pride ourselves on helping players get the most out of online casinos, we’re also very aware of the potential pitfalls. Let’s take a look at the serious side of using online casinos and how to gamble responsibly.
Why is it Important to Gamble Responsibly?
Gambling can be great fun, but it can also be potentially addictive. As gambling generally involves putting real money on the line, gambling in an irresponsible way can have a negative effect on players’ finances, as well as their physical and mental health.
All casino games come with a built in house edge, which means that, in the long run, the casino will also have an advantage over the player. Sure, it’s possible that you could get lucky and win big, but overall the casino will always profit from players.
This is why you need to be sensible with your money when you’re gambling. Whether you’re facing off with the blackjack dealer, seeing what Lady Luck has in store at the baccarat table or simply having a punt on the slots, gambling should be about having fun first and foremost.
If you find yourself gambling out of a need to make money, or to make up for ever-increasing losses, that’s when it can spiral from an enjoyable pastime into an unhealthy obsession, because casino games are designed so that players lose money.
This can lead to excessive spending and escalating losses, which in turn can seriously impact both you and those closest to you. That’s why it’s so important to always gamble responsibly and ensure it remains what it should be: a fun and harmless hobby.
Warning Signs of Problem Gambling
There are a number of red flags which could indicate you have a gambling problem and that it might be a good time to seek out support. It’s important to understand and recognise them so you can identify issues before they become too serious. These include:
- Spending more money on gambling than you can afford, which might mean you have to borrow money or sell possessions to continue gambling
- Seeing gambling as a source of income, rather than a fun pastime
- Hiding the full extent of your gambling – how much you’re spending and how often you’re gambling – from friends and loved ones
- Losing interest in other hobbies or socialising with friends
- Feeling stressed, anxious and guilty about gambling
- Neglecting daily responsibilities like work and family in favour of gambling
Safe Gambling Practices
If you’re looking for some advice on how you can stay safe while gambling online, then following these practices will all help to keep a healthy check on your gambling behaviour.
Only Deposit What You Can Afford to Lose
The UK Gambling Commission’s ban on credit card payments in 2020 has helped gamblers control their spending at online casinos that fall under its jurisdiction, including many operators in Ireland. While such formal restrictions can help curb problematic behaviour, the fact is that placing bets with money you can afford to lose is the only way to ensure gambling remains an enjoyable hobby. Before any gambling session, have an idea in your mind about what you can reasonably afford to lose, and make sure you don’t exceed this amount.
Make Use of On-Site Limiters
Making use of on-site limiters is a great way to ensure you’re never betting beyond your means. All licensed casinos have on-site limiters available in their account management tools, which can be used to place daily, weekly or monthly limits. If you think these on-site limiters don’t go far enough for your situation, online casinos also have self-exclusion tools that lock you out of your gambling accounts for weeks, months or years at a time.
Never Chase Your Losses
One key indicator of problematic gambling behaviour is the compulsion to chase losses. What is perceived as an opportunity to make a quick fix often exacerbates the problem, and punters can end up in a far worse situation than they would’ve been if they’d just called it quits. It should always be remembered that a run of bad luck doesn’t influence RTP rates and variance, and you won’t ever be ‘due’ a win.
Ensure You Understand the Game You’re Playing
If you’re looking to play a classic casino game such as roulette, make sure you’ve spent a bit of time researching the game’s rules and how the rounds of betting work. This will help you make informed choices on how and when to bet, and lessen the chances of getting flummoxed during a round of play.
For slot machines, most online casinos will provide background details on the games hosted on their site – including RTP rates, payline information, and how players can trigger bonus rounds and free spins. If they don’t, there are plenty of reviews available elsewhere online that help break these games down.
Research Betting Markets Thoroughly
If it’s sports betting you’re interested in, then spend some time researching the sports and betting markets you’d like to wager in before placing a bet. In addition, make sure you’ve read and understood all the associated terms and conditions, as these can sometimes bring unwelcome surprises. For example, whether or not a bookmaker considers the final result of the football to be at 90 minutes or after extra time.
Always Play Whilst Sober and Clear-Headed
This is another golden rule of responsible gambling. Applying other safer play practices is made fundamentally more difficult if you’re in no fit state to gamble in the first place. The loss of inhibitions due to being intoxicated or in an emotionally volatile state makes gamblers more likely to over-bet, chase losses, and to behave irresponsibly online.
Recognise the Warning Signs
The gambling industry is working hard to make sure punters are aware of the warning signs of problem gambling. Indications that may lead to gambling-related harm include an increased amount of time spent gambling, viewing gambling as a source of income, lying about your gambling habits, and having gambling affect your social, domestic and working lives. And if you find yourself neglecting some – or all – of the safer play practices listed here, it’s important to recognise the warning signs and seek appropriate help.
Help and Support are Available
As a gambling affiliate, it’s our responsibility to promote support services and encourage safer gambling practices. If you think that you or anyone you know may be suffering from gambling-related harm, it’s vital that you seek out professional help. Remember that you are not alone, and that there are organisations, charities, and helplines that will provide you with the care and treatment you need. Don’t ever suffer in silence.
What Might Trigger Irresponsible Gambling?
There is no one thing that triggers irresponsible gambling habits – every player is different. Many people can gamble throughout their whole lives without developing any issues, while others may fall into irresponsible gambling habits a short time after placing their first bet.
There are certain factors that may increase a player’s risk of not gambling responsibly. These include:
- Gambling from a younger age
- Having friends or family members who gamble excessively
- Suffering from anxiety, depression or trauma
Ultimately, whoever you are, it’s important to be vigilant about your gambling habits and ensure you always play within your means and for fun rather than for profit. When it comes to how to gamble responsibly, taking the following steps can help you stay in control:
- Have a clear gambling budget in mind whenever you sit down to play casino games online.
- Avoid gambling while under the influence of drink or drugs, which could make you reckless.
- Give yourself set time limits for gambling, so that it remains a hobby rather than an all-consuming addiction.
- Stick to licensed and regulated operators who take the health and wellbeing of their players seriously.
- Make use of responsible gambling settings available at licensed operators, such as deposit limits, time outs and self exclusion.
Problem Gambling Charities
If you recognise the signs of having a gambling problem and more information, advice or support, there are organisations that can help. One is Problem Gambling Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation that offers a range of resources and services. It provides email and phone support, a counselling service, as well as harm-prevention workshops.
Another prominent charity in Ireland is the Gambling Awareness Trust, which funds research into problem gambling and provides support for gambling treatment programmes. The Gambling Awareness Trust also supported Responsible Gambling Week 2019, raising awareness about the potential risks of gambling and ways to encourage players to gamble responsibly.
There’s also Gamblers Anonymous Ireland, which organises meetings all over the country where you can talk over your issues with fellow gamblers and receive support and advice.
The UK-based problem gambling charity Gamcare runs a self-assessment tool on its site that takes a look at how much gambling is impacting a participant’s life. Participants answer a series of statements related to gambling behaviour, ranking each statement on a scale of 1-10 depending on how much the statement applies to the participant’s gambling habits. At the end of the self-assessment, Gamcare will summarise how gambling might be affecting the participant’s life, before presenting them with personalised recommendations on the necessary next steps. The self-assessment is free and anonymous, and can lay the foundations for successful problem gambling treatment.
Irish gamblers can also access Dunlewey Addiction Services – an organisation founded in 1987 that offers professional help to those experiencing any addiction issues, whether it’s alcoholism, substance abuse, or problem gambling. Its counselling and mentoring programmes are free and confidential, and focus on rebuilding confidence, self-esteem and individual responsibility. If you’d like more information on Dunlewey’s support services, you can contact them via freephone on 02890 392547, 9am-11pm, seven days a week.
Does Self-Exclusion Work?
Self-exclusion can be an effective tool if you feel you need to take a step back from gambling and restore balance in your life. All casinos licensed by respected governing bodies such as the UK Gambling Commission – which is to say, all the casinos listed on our site – will offer self-exclusion for players. This means that you can opt to have your account shut down for a set period of time, which can range from six months to a number of years.
During this period, you will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason, and you should not be sent any promotional offers or marketing materials from the casino. As well as self-exclusion, responsible casinos will also offer “time out” or “take a break” periods which can last from just a single day to several weeks. This is a less extreme course of action than self-exclusion, and can be helpful if you feel like it would be good to take a bit of a breather.
If you do feel like you have a gambling problem, you should still seek support from charities as well as friends and family in conjunction with self-exclusion. This will give you the best chance of recovering from problem gambling and prevent it becoming an issue again in the future.
Can I Get Treatment for Gambling Addiction through the HSE?
Ireland’s Health Service Executive does provide support and therapy services for people with gambling problems. Your first port of call should be your GP, who can consider your case and then refer you for counselling services at the most convenient facility that’s available, whether that’s a hospital or outpatient care centre.
When is Responsible Gambling Week?
Responsible Gambling Week is an annual, industry-wide initiative to raise awareness of the serious issue of problem gambling. The most recent RGW ran from the 7th-13th November 2019, and the event is supported by casinos, bingo rooms, online affiliates and gambling charities alike.
One of the major aims of Responsible Gambling Week is to get people talking openly and honestly about issues relating to addiction and gambling. Gambling venues have carried posters, banners and promotional materials shedding light on the key issues, such as ways to recognise addiction and adopt responsible gambling practices. Information has also been made available on online casinos during Responsible Gambling Week to further spread the message.
As staff writer, Daniel offers his expertise in all things gambling, contributing to a number of topics on TopRatedCasinos.co.uk, including our casino reviews and strategy guides. Daniel is also an avid sports fan, with a strong interest in NBA and Premier League betting.
Marcus is an Editor at TopRatedCasinos.ie and contributes to writing and editing the full range of content on-site. His key focuses across the site are to deliver accurate, detailed and honest information whilst promoting healthy gambling practices. Outside the iGaming industry, Marcus is a passionate West Ham fan and regular contributor to music site Audioxide. His work has been featured in The Times, Business Chief, GameRant, the Conflict Comment, and Raconteur.
Ben is a staff writer at TopRatedCasinos with expertise extending to all areas of gambling. Having worked on all manner of content for the site, from individual casino reviews to strategy guides, Ben is a seasoned iGaming writer with a keen focus on promoting responsible gambling habits. Ben is a keen sports and music enthusiast and has worked for a number of publications on both subjects.