Gambling can be a highly addictive activity. Thanks to the expansion of online gambling, making gambling services far more easily accessible then in the past, there has been a marked increase in the number of people who report experiencing compulsive gambling tendencies.
If you feel that your gambling is starting to become problematic you should ensure that you are familiar with the various services available to help you manage your gambling, the tools offered by online gambling operators to help their players and your rights as laid out and enforced by the various gambling regulators.
'Responsible Gambling' is a term used within the gambling industry to describe the policies and strategies put in place to help players to gamble in a manner that is not detrimental to their health, and to stay within limits that they can reasonably afford.
Controlling your Gambling
While gambling can be fun, you have to engage with it responsibly and manage your behaviour to prevent high risk situations from arising.
Do not view gambling as a potential source of income! Gambling operators are businesses selling entertainment. While some players do win, the games on offer are weighted in favour of the house. This means that the more that you play the more likely you are to lose. Enjoy the wins when they happen, but always consider them a nice extra not as a source of income.
Never risk money you cannot afford to lose! The outcome of any bet cannot be known before you have placed it. No matter how confident you are that you will win you should never allow yourself to gamble if losing the money would cause you to be unable to afford the necessities of life. If you cannot afford to do without the money in your purse, wallet or bank account, do not gamble it.
Keep your sessions short. The longer you play the more tired you will become and the more likely you will be to experience swings in fortune that are large in comparison to what you are comfortable losing. Don’t engage in marathon betting sessions.
Avoid playing for targets! People who keep playing after having a nice win, hoping to reach a “round number” frequently end up losing all that they have won before they reach their target. If you’ve had a win that makes you smile, cash it out and do something nice with it. Don’t keep playing hoping for more.
Do not play to recover losses!!! If you have lost money, the most likely thing that will happen if you keep playing is that you will lose more. Remember that the house always has the edge and playing on is more likely to make things worse than better. Playing to try and win losses back is never a good idea.
What can an online gambling operator do to help me?
The support offered to players by online gambling operators varies significantly depending on which licences the operator holds. Sadly, gambling addiction can be a significant source of revenue for unscrupulous operators and considerable pressure from regulatory agencies has been required to persuade the gambling industry to take appropriate measures to protect vulnerable players.
Below you’ll find details of what some of the larger gambling regulators require of their licensees:
UKGC – Operators who are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission must adhere to the strongest requirements. UKGC licensed operators are required to offer several tools to players, but it should be noted that these requirements ONLY apply to UK citizens:
- Time Outs – Operators are required, on request, to suspend the player’s account for short periods of time. Suspensions are intended to help players who feel there is a short-term period of high risk. Time Outs can range in length from 24 hours to 6 weeks, and prevent the account from being reopened until the selected suspension period has ended. After that the account will be automatically reopened. It is important to note that Time Outs are only enforced at the specific operator where they were requested. They do not carry over to other properties on the same license.
- Self-Exclusions – Self-Exclusions are a longer term and stronger restriction intended for players who feel they need more significant help to control their gambling. Players can request a Self-Exclusion of any length from 6 months to 5 years or more. Once activated the Self-Exclusion has been activated it will remain in place for the full duration that was selected. The operator is also expected to remove the player from any marketing communications within 48 hours of a Self-Exclusion being activated. At the end of the selected exclusion period the Self-Exclusion will automatically be extended for a further 7 years unless the account holder takes “positive action” to re-engage with the gambling service. If you request removal of the restriction after the Self-Exclusion period has ended you should be given a 24 hour ‘cooling-off’ period before your account can be reactivated. Self-Exclusions are required to be carried over to any other operators that share the same license as the operator the player requested the exclusion with.
MGA – The Malta Gambling Authority are the next most proactive regulatory agency with regard to the Responsible Gambling requirements they enforce on their licensees. These restrictions are applicable to residents of all jurisdictions other than the UK while playing with an MGA licensed operator. So far as we know, specific information about their license requirements is not freely available online. However, from experience in working with this agency we can state that they require operators to offer similar provisions to the UKGC license in that Self-Exclusions are required to be carried over to all properties that share a license. However, unlike the UKGC license they also require other restrictions such as Deposit Limits and Loss Limits to be carried over to all properties on a licence. A crucial difference from UKGC is that any account closure restriction (Time Out or Self-Exclusion) put in place at an MGA licensed property can be revoked at any time at the request of the account holder, but only after a 7 day cooling off period.
Other Regulatory Agencies – Unfortunately we have had significant difficulties tracking down explicit Responsible Gambling requirements put in place by other regulatory agencies. Most mention that they require operators to have a policy in place but it is hard to find any clear, specific definition of what the policy should cover. It should be noted that operators citing licenses in Curacao, Costa Rica, Cypress and Antigua and Barbuda are significantly more likely to have weak or insufficient policies in place. Operators licensed in Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Alderney, New Jersey or Jersey are likely to have more robust policies, but it is challenging to establish what specific rights these provide to the player.
Other Tools that are Commonly Available
Below are descriptions of some further tools that more progressive operators are starting to make available to players. It should be noted that these are not currently required by any license and therefore not all operators will provide them.
- Deposit Limits – Many operators are putting in place systems that allow the player to stipulate the maximum amount they should be allowed to deposit over a given time period. It is important to note that Deposit Limits are only enforced at the specific operator where they were requested. They do not carry over to other properties on the same license.
- Session Length Limits – Becoming common are tools that either provide reminders to players about the length of time they have been playing or allow the player to dictate the maximum amount of time for which they are allowed to play in a day. Again these limits are usually only applied at the property you request them at and will not carry over to other operators on the license.
- Loss Limits – These limits are similar to deposit limits but instead stipulate how much you can lose over a defined time period. Players should be careful with how they consider these limits as they relate to net losses. For example, if you set a Loss Limit of £200 per week and you deposit £100 and then win £1000, you will be allowed to lose back your entire balance of £1100 plus a further £100 in that week. Even if you withdraw the winnings, you will be allowed to redeposit the money you won until you reach an overall balance of -£200 for the week. The Loss Limit is based on your starting balance at the start of the limit period rather than your highest balance point.
Services that are Available to Help you
The first recommendation we would make to anyone who is feeling like they need help to control their gambling would be to install BetBlocker on all their internet capable devices. BetBlocker is what is known as “filtering software”. This app allows you to block your internet capable devices from accessing any online gambling operator’s website. You can select how long you want to be excluded for and most importantly it is free to download, install and use.
Let us be entirely upfront and transparent about this – BetBlocker is developed and paid for by ThePOGG.com who also contributed the content of this page. For this reason our opinion may not be entirely impartial. Other filtering software packages are available on the market, with various strengths and weaknesses. The primary reason for the development of BetBlocker is that so far as we know all other available filtering software packages that help you to stop gambling are fee and licensed based. Now that most people have multiple internet capable devices, buying filtering software for these devices can quickly become expensive. From experience of dealing on a regular basis with complaints from people suffering from gambling addition, we can state as a fact that one thing most gambling addicts have in common is a shortage of money.
Nevertheless, the other major gambling filtering software packages available are:
No filtering software is ever going to be entirely foolproof but any tool that will make it more difficult for you to access gambling websites is a very good place to start regaining control.
After implementing a filtering tool to help you moderate your access to online gambling you may want to consider contacting some of the services listed on this page who can offer help and advice on staying in control of your gambling activities.