In recent years online gambling has boomed. The rise in technological advances has enabled us to get access to games whenever and wherever we want. Whilst this may seem like the perfect answer to land-based casinos, there are still issues that can arise. As with anything, online gambling can become addictive, arguably even more so than its brick and mortar counterpart simply because of its accessibility. However, online casinos are aware of this problem and have many responsible gaming protocols in place to help and protect all who join their online gaming community.
Responsible gaming is a wide-ranging concept that encompasses a large number of policies and requirements that not only affect the players themselves, but also the casinos offering their services. By having these policies in place, players are afforded nothing but the very best quality of gaming, including this much-needed player safety and protection against the dangers of gambling – both on and offline. Gambling should be a fun hobby and, whilst most people can treat it this way, there are a few who can’t. Keep reading to find out how to prevent problem gambling.
What does responsible gaming seek to achieve?
Before we dive into the ways that operators help to protect against irresponsible gaming, it’s important to note that both the operators (the casinos) and the software providers have many provisions and services in place to help those players who might be struggling with addiction. The providers support operators so that both parties will comply with legislation as well as technical demands. When it comes to responsible gambling, there are seven different areas that the online gaming community focuses on when trying to help.
- These seven areas include the ability to protect any player that may seem to be vulnerable when playing online.
- It helps in preventing underage gambling and bringing other issues to light. There are also numerous safety measures against criminal behaviours online as well.
- Information privacy, online transaction protection and a secure playing environment are other ways that the industry seeks to keep everyone protected.
- Lastly, casinos and providers are required to provide ethical marketing that does not promote too strongly the more addictive side of online gambling.
Protecting vulnerable and underage gamblers
For any casino, it is imperative that under responsible gambling rules, any vulnerable players are protected. In the case of underage players, casinos have a set of stringent sign-up regulations and identification protocols designed to prevent young people from being able to participate. For other vulnerable gamblers, there are numerous methods such as self-exclusion, transaction limits, playing time limits, a reality check and more that can be put in place to prevent players spending too much – these will be discussed in detail later in this article.
Being safe online is key to everyone having fun. With this firmly in mind, casinos are obligated to ensure that players’ personal and private data cannot fall into the wrong hands. Most good casinos will be protected by SSL encryption protocols that can detect and prevent any unwanted attacks or criminal activities from gaining access to the banking details of players. Following on from that, casinos are also obligated to have payment protections in place. Casinos do this by ensuring that all the payment providers are highly trustworthy, each offering additional layers of protection.
Most casinos will be highly secure. Players can check this themselves when arriving at the site – a padlock icon beside the URL denotes a protected and secure site. All of this helps to create a secure playing platform that is more conducive to a fun gaming environment. This is all in the best interests of both parties, as happy players will spend longer at a casino, potentially depositing more money than if they were uncomfortable. However, this does put the onus of responsible gambling squarely back on the casinos’ shoulders.
How can players be responsible?
Even with the casinos being as responsible as possible, it’s also important for the gamblers themselves, and those around them, to recognise the signs that there might be an issue. As most sites will state, gambling is supposed to be fun. A clear sign things aren’t going so well is when it stops being an enjoyable pastime. If a player is spending all their time online, there may be a problem. Players should also not think of online gaming as a way to make money, as this can bring added levels of stress.
Players should also be aware of how much money they can safely spend gaming. Budgets for gaming should be made and, importantly, adhered too. Once players start dipping into savings or spending more than they can afford, problems start to arise. Players should limit the amount of time they are online as well and also check out their wins versus losses to ensure that it is worthwhile spending time online. If players are finding they have problems gambling, there are numerous options open to them, outlined below.
Reality checks and self-exclusion
One of the first things players can do is to use the reality check software. Different casinos will offer this in various capacities, but it essentially keeps players aware of how long they are spending online and how much money they have won or lost in that period. These reality checks are great as they will set off a warning for each hour that the player has been online – this can burst a player out of their online gaming bubble. Being given wins and loses breakdown can also be a wake-up call.
If things are progressing on a downward path, players can choose to make use of the self-exclusion option. This involves players contacting the casino and having themselves limited or banned from that casino. The closure period can vary between six months to a few years to permanent. If this is put in place, players will have no access to that particular casino and, in some cases, any casino that is linked or affiliated with that one. This self-exclusion decision can be reversed down the line but often provides players with a much-needed break.
In some cases, a player, or their family and friends, may feel that things have gone too far. This is where professional help can be sought to get to grips with the problem. There are several organisations dedicated to this very issue that can provide much-needed help and support through what can be a tough time for the player as they struggle with their addiction. Most online casinos will have direct links to a number of sites that can help players with their gambling issues.
GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous and Gambling Therapy all offer excellent support to players around the world. They offer help and counselling to those players that are having issues – in many cases, they are ex-gamblers themselves and have created this important network to assist others. Links to these organisations can be found on casino homepages, making it easy for players to access them. It’s also worth noting here that in some jurisdictions, casinos will only be granted licenses if they adhere to responsible gaming rules and regulations, offering these options to players who may be in trouble.
Gambling is fun, and it should stay that way. For most of us, it is a highly enjoyable pastime that we can dabble in, as and when we feel like it. For those that find gambling presents a challenge and a dangerous playing ground, there are numerous ways to protect themselves from falling into the trap of addiction. From self-exclusion through to gambling counselling, someone is there to help on every step of this journey. Be aware of the options available and keep enjoying what online gaming has to offer.