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.
What are the signs that I might have a gambling problem?
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
Are there any charities that can help with problem gambling?
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.
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.
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.