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Gambling should be about having fun and adding another element to the games you already love. However, since gambling involves winning money (if you are lucky), some players let themselves get carried away and end up gambling excessively.
This can lead to financial difficulties, addiction, stress, and more.
To avoid all of this, it’s crucial to gamble responsibly. Responsible gambling refers to a mature approach to sports betting and casino games that views these activities as a form of entertainment and not a way to make money.
To gamble responsibly, you have to understand the risks that gambling poses and make sure your habits are always under control. You have to set budgets, never spend more than you can afford, know the odds of winning, and never let gambling interfere with the other parts of your life.
Stay with us as we explore responsible gaming in detail, including the signs of problem gambling, tips on how to gamble responsibly, and where to find help if you feel like things are getting out of hand.
How to View Sports Betting and Other Types of Gambling
With the rapid legalization of sports betting and other forms of gambling in the United States, you’ve likely come across it online, on the TV, over the radio, or in one of the many other spots that companies are advertising.
As it is so widespread and accessible, gambling poses a threat to vulnerable groups and individuals.
Here is an overview of how you should view sports betting and other types of gambling so you have the right mindset going into it:
- Gambling is a form of entertainment. Gambling is all about having fun. Placing a bet on a game you are watching intensifies the whole experience and makes it more exciting. Of course, if you happen to win, you’ll get bragging rights, especially if you’re a fan of the winning team. But you should view it as just that—a form of entertainment.
- It is a platform for socialization. Gambling brings people together. Throwing in a bet or two while watching sporting events with your friends makes the experience that much more exciting. Also, if you are playing blackjack, craps, and other casino games, you will get a chance to interact with people around you and share those emotions, making you feel like you are a part of a group.
- It is NOT a way to earn money. Although you theoretically can make real money gambling, you should never see it as a source of income. Experienced players understand the odds of winning and only wager what they can afford to lose. Sportsbooks and casinos always have the edge, both in how they price the odds of winning and in the massive amounts of data they have that you don’t.
- Assume you will lose everything you wager. While the chances of you losing every single bet you make are very low, you should still view it that way. Risking only what you are comfortable with losing is a good way to ensure that you never find yourself in financial trouble from gambling.
Setting Gambling Limits
Setting gambling limits is one of the best ways to stay in control while gambling. These limits may refer to how much you can deposit or wager, how much you can lose, how much time you can spend gambling, and more.
Most legal online sportsbooks allow you to set limits directly in the app. If your preferred sportsbook offers these, you should definitely take advantage of them. These are often irreversible for a period of time, making you commit to your self-set limits.
Even if your sportsbook doesn’t offer limits, you can always set them for yourself. Just try your best to stick to them and never let yourself slide “just this one time.”
Here is an overview of some of the most popular forms of limits:
- Deposit limits. This puts a cap on how much money you can transfer to your casino or sportsbook account in a daily, weekly, or monthly time period. Most of the time, you can set the limit through the cashier/banking section of your app. If such an option is unavailable, contact customer support and have them do it.
- Wager limits. A wager limit lets you choose how much you can cumulatively bet during a daily, weekly, or monthly time period. Once you reach your limit, you will no longer be able to bet any more money. You also typically can’t change your wager limit until the predefined time period is over.
- Maximum wager limit. This simply limits how much you can risk on a single bet. For example, if your max wager limit is $10, you can’t place any more than $10 on any single bet, regardless of whether it’s a straight bet, parlay, etc.
- Loss limits. These allow you to limit the net amount of money you can lose over a designated period. You can typically set daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly limits. Once you reach the loss limit, you won’t be able to place another bet. Note that this usually takes winnings into account, not just losses. So, for example, if your daily loss limit is $100 and you profit $50 off your first bet, you would then have to lose $150 after that you hit your limit.
- Time limits. When you set time limits, you effectively limit how much time you can spend playing on a specific site or app. Usually, the limits are set on a daily, weekly, and monthly level.
How Self-Exclusion Programs Work
Self-exclusion programs let players ban themselves from participating in any gambling-related activity, both online and offline, for a given period. That period usually lasts between six months, a year, three years, five years, or indefinitely.
All operators with a gaming license from a local U.S. regulator are required to run a self-exclusion program.
There are a couple of forms of self-exclusion programs:
You can use those run by individual operators that only exclude yourself from their site for a specific period (often called a “cool off” period).
Then, there are state-run self-exclusion programs that apply to all legal casinos and sportsbooks in that particular state.
Finally, there’s gambling-specific blocking software—apps or programs that stop players from accessing specific gambling websites and platforms. You simply need to install the program and provide a list of websites you want it to block, and you will be all set. Some examples of anti-gambling software include BetBlocker, GamBan, and Gamblock.
The U.S. states with gambling self-exclusion programs are:
- District of Columbia
- Nevada (applies only to promotional marketing, credit, and check-cashing)
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Other Tips for Gambling Responsibly
Here are some other tips that can help you make sure you are gambling responsibly:
- Don’t ever gamble with more than you can afford to lose.
- Never borrow money for gambling or play using money intended for mortgage payments, loans, or daily expenses.
- Don’t try to win back money you have lost.
- Don’t gamble when you are feeling upset.
- Set limits (see above).
- Don’t use gambling as a way to make money.
- If you feel like you are not having fun anymore, stop playing.
- Do not consume alcohol or drugs when playing.
- Take frequent breaks to move around, get fresh air, and hydrate.
- Learn how the games work and what the odds of winning are.
- Do not believe in any strategies that guarantee wins.
- Understand how sportsbooks make money and why they always have an edge.
Warning Signs of a Gambling Problem
According to the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), roughly 7% of young adults have reported a gambling problem during the past year. However, it is not always easy to notice when someone is struggling with their gambling habits. Some of the more noticeable warning signs include:
- Lying about gambling habits
Borrowing money without paying it back
- Inability to cover everyday expenses
- Experiencing lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and overall poor health
Feeling stressed when not gambling
Selling belongings to cover gambling expenses
- Money missing from the house
- Resorting to gambling after a fight or an argument to cool off
- Considering an illegal act to support your gambling habits
- Experiencing an urge to gamble more after losing to “get out of the hole”
- Experiencing an urge to gamble more after a win to continue a “hot streak”
- Controlling or manipulative behavior
- Poor performance at work
If you or someone you know are exhibiting any of the things mentioned above, you should reach out for help via one of the following methods.
Where to Find Help for a Gambling Problem
Luckily, players who are experiencing gambling problems are not left to fight for themselves. Many national and worldwide organizations are helping people combat gambling addiction. Some of the best options include:
- The National Council on Problem Gambling. This organization works throughout the U.S. with programs assisting people affected by problem gambling. The organization has been around since 1972 and runs a 24-hour confidential national helpline you can reach by dialing 1-800-522-4700.
- Gamblers Anonymous. Gamblers Anonymous is an international support group for all those having a tough time handling their gambling urges. The GA regularly hosts meetings throughout major U.S. cities and states and has a dedicated hotline for each state that you can call to get help.
- Gam-Anon. Gam-Anon is an organization that specializes in helping people whose loved ones are compulsive gamblers. The support group runs a 12-step self-help program to help gamblers’ families lead normal lives and support their loved ones’ efforts to stop gambling.
Most U.S. states have their own programs, and most cooperate closely with The National Council on Problem Gambling. Click on this link to see where you can find problem gambling resources and services in each state.