As much as we and pretty much everyone in the world loves gambling, there’s an inescapable and sometimes crushing fact about it; like most regulated behaviours it’s dangerous. Gambling is addictive and damaging to lives, well being and mental health if it becomes so. This is why casinos and licensing jurisdictions put a lot of emphasis on responsible gambling within their licensing conditions.
Here at CasinoGuide, we recognise that we bear a responsibility to offer our service to the online gambling community in a socially responsible way.
To demonstrate our commitment to that responsibility, in January 2020 we became the first-ever Corporate Sponsor for a responsible gambling tool called BetBlocker. We are very proud to be the first 'responsible affiliate' to contribute to this ambitious project, as a Gold Donor.
Available for free on all devices and operating systems, BetBlocker enables players to block themselves from accessing over 6,988 gambling websites. This can be extremely helpful if the player in question feels they are unable to control their gambling, and need to take an enforced break from it.
More recently, problem gambling has become a bit of a hot topic in the UK, receiving a lot of attention from the media, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), prominent research bodies and NGOs. If you’re not up to date on what responsible gambling is, the responsible gambling measures you can access to monitor and limit your gaming behaviours, and where you can get support then keep reading as we’ll cover it all right here.
Responsible gambling is being aware of the dangers of gambling and taking steps to prevent and monitoring your gambling behaviour to ensure it doesn’t become an addictive or damaging practice.
“Problem gambling is defined as behaviour related to gambling which causes harm to the gambler and those around them. This may include family, friends and others who know them or care for them.” (UKGC, 2019a).
This is a very broad quote. The harm can be of any kind; physical, mental, financial, etc. It also recognises that both the behaviours associated with problem gambling and harmful outcomes can be multifaceted and complicated in many cases. They are also not limited to the player alone.
Let’s look at some examples of problem gambling in real situations to clarify:
You should always be able to remain in control of your gambling and only ever bet what you can afford, not chasing losses or gambling when emotional (BeGambleAware, 2019).
According to recent gambling data collected by the UKGC, National Health Survey and NatCen, over 50% of the UK population are gamblers (meaning they have participated in gambling in the last 12 months, UKGC, 2018a). Problem gambling can be broken down into risk categories and estimates for the UK, based on survey data from (Heinze, 2018 are as follows:
In actual figures rather than statistics The Guardian (Davis, 2017) reported this as over 2 million people in the UK are affected by some form of problem gambling, with over 400,000 reported as having a serious habit.
Sadly, despite all gambling being illegal for those under 18 years of age in the UK, problem gambling still affects youths with 14% of survey respondents having gambled in the past week and a 1.7% rate of problem gamblers in the 11-16 yrs age group (UKGC, 2018b).
More men than women gamble, and in every risk category, the amount of male problem gamblers or at-risk gamblers is much higher than female (disproportionately so), but across both genders, those aged 24-36 are most vulnerable to problem gambling (UKGC, 2019a).
With all this attention, research and funding in and for gambling help services, there’s a wealth of self-testing, questionnaires that you can take freely to check your gambling habit and see how at risk you are of problem gambling. Our favourite comes from NHS England (2017) and asks you to score yourself based on your gambling behaviours. You should take a responsible gambling self-assessment regularly to check on your gambling habits. Check your status, take the test now!
Despite responsible and problem gambling being a hot topic and licencing conditions for casinos, it is still a huge concern affecting large amounts of the UK population. The UK Gambling Commission, who is in charge of all research, legislation and regulation for the UK gambling market was established in 2005 (although much legislation came before, there was no specialised government body in charge).
The UKGC sets out the core casino responsibilities to players, which include, but are not limited to:
Again, protection from harm is a very broad category, and it is here that responsible gambling belongs with the UKGC - stipulating what tools, measures, support and information casinos must provide on problem gambling. This is laid out in guidelines, called the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCPs), which all casinos who are licensed by the UKGC are bound to meet, and audited upon along with other criteria. Therefore, it is the casinos who are charged with the larger part of player protection, as they are the party offering the service and held accountable for breaching the LCCPs. The LCCP is a living document and allows the UKGC to update and change the conditions and code as and when they feel it is required meaning they can be quick to act to market changes and penalise those casinos who fall short on informing or protecting their players.
Recently, there have been some prominent examples of this in action:
In 2018, The Gambling Commission and Advertising Standards Authority came together to overhaul of the conditions under which casinos can advertise their products. They updated the marketing area of the LCCPs to address and tackle misleading terms, how advertisements are placed, what they can contain, the types of messages they send - i.e. they should not be irresponsibly promoting gambling and much more.
However, from the figures we presented to you earlier, it’s obvious that problem is still an issue for a lot of players, and in fact, many do not know the tools available to them at the casino to help monitor and limits gambling behaviours.
There has also been a greater focus on the relationship between problem gambling and mental health. Using data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2007), the UKGC found that “5% of problem gamblers had attempted suicide in the previous year and that 5% of people who had attempted suicide in the previous year were problem gamblers” (UKGC, 2019b).
In response, this spurred the UKGC to design and launch in April 2019, The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. This 3-year strategy aims to bring a lasting impact to the reduction of gambling harm by bringing together the UKGC and Charities, continuing research and regulation and helping to raise awareness, treat and support problem gamblers.
One of the biggest issues with managing problem gambling is awareness. The great news is, you’re here reading this so you are aware that problem gambling exists, but the drive to promote responsible gambling tools still has far to go, and there remains a vast number of gamblers who do not know of or use responsible gambling measures supplied by casinos.
So let’s take a closer look at how you can use the tools that casinos provide to track, manage and make sure your gambling behaviour is healthy.
All UK casino accounts are fine-tuned to the sound of responsible gambling and you’ll find a range of tools at your disposal as well as a support team trained to deal with problem gambling. Whilst some tools can be activated online, others require you to reach out and speak to your casino directly to make effective. Casino tools include:
You can also use BetBlocker to self-exclude from over 7,000 online gambling sites.
Generally, the evidence indicates that availability of such tools decreases problem gambling overall. A survey of nearly 50,000 players in seven different countries, undertaken by Michael Auer, Niklas Hopfgartner, and Mark D. Griffiths, and published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking journal, demonstrated as much.
The study was based around the Deposit Limits tool. Data was collected over three months in 2017 and then the same time period in 2018. It showed that the most 'high-intensity' gamblers decreased their spending more than those who didn't set limits. On average, the top 10% of big spenders lost around £400 in the 2018 period, compared with over £1000 in the 2017 period.
The UK is keen to target all forms of problem gambling and offers funding to NGOs who provide this service. Getting help and assistance outside of the casino is key if you’re experiencing problem gambling and is an essential step to regaining control of your gambling behaviour.
As problem gambling can also affect family members, some support services extend to them. Use the following links to do directly to independent gambling support services:
Responsible gambling is about knowing when to stop and being in control of how you gamble. Every player who gambles should be using the responsible gambling tools provided by casinos to monitor how they pay and play and be aware of the risk they expose themselves to.