For the vast majority of people online gaming is about the fun part. Like any hobby or pastime it can form a small or a big part of their life but it does not become a problem. However, for some people gambling does become a problem. Here at Trusted Bingo we are committed to responsible gambling: helping avoid gambling become a problem in the first place, but making sure people can find help if they need it.
Even if you are among the majority of people for whom gambling is not a problem it is useful to be aware of responsible gambling involves so you can help if someone you know does develop a problem.
Prevention is always better than cure and there are steps you can take to help avoid developing a gambling problem.
First is to look at gambling logically. There’s no doubt that every type of gambling is an emotional activity. The anticipation of waiting for your number to come up, the thrill of getting a big win. It’s hard, in moments like this, to think logically but taking a moment can help. However, friendly your favourite bingo site is they are a business trying to make a profit, and that means they need players to pay in more than they win. Remembering this will help you avoid getting carried away by the emotion.
Second is to set limits. These will vary from person to person, but think about why you are playing and what you want to get from it. Whether it’s a weekend indulgence, or a daily post-work treat, work out how much you can afford and stick to your limit. You should never spend more than you can afford to lose. And if you assume you will lose everything you play then whatever you win is a bonus.
Spotting the signs
Thinking about why you play is a good way to spot when it’s becoming a problem. ‘When the fun stops, STOP’ is a good slogan for a reason: when the prime motivation for gambling is no longer fun it’s a good sign it has become problematic. If you, or someone you know, is gambling because it’s become a compulsion, or because they need a win to pay off debts, it’s time to stop and act.
Problem gambling frequently causes problems in other parts of life, there are a number of signs that you can look out for:
- spending less time with friends and family, or even working, especially if this time is now spent gambling,
- borrowing money, or selling or pawning goods to raise money,
- gambling to raise money to pay debts,
- lying about the time or money spent on gambling,
- failed attempts to quit gambling.
You should also look out for general signs of poor mental health, such as feelings of lack of control, depression or suicidal thoughts.
If you know someone with a problem, or think you have a problem, there’s lots you can do about it. The very first, and crucial, step is acknowledging the problem. Until the problem behaviour is accepted it will be rationalised, but once it’s out in the open there are lots of resources, including the gambling industry, who will help.
An initial step might be a temporary time-out. This is a useful initial step and should be offered by any site you use. Basically, it means you are banned from the site for a short period, perhaps a few days. It isn’t for everyone and still needs some self-control, but can be useful if you are worried you are getting a bit carried away or, perhaps, to give yourself a small break. Online companies must offer this for periods of one day, one week and one month, but you can request any length of period up to six weeks.
Self-exclusions are a more formal break from gambling. These last for a minimum of six months and, during that period, your account is effectively deleted. Any money you are owed will be paid back and any marketing or other email from the site stopped. You shouldn’t be able to open a new account, since the site should make checks to stop this, and even when your self-exclusion period is over you will not be able to re-activate your account without a waiting period. This self-exclusion should also cover related sites, so if you self-exclude from one site the operator should exclude you from every other site they operate.
Again, every online bookmaker, casino and bingo site must offer this facility. It must also be a fully automated process. If you want to self-exclude there will be no human contact that might, intentionally or otherwise, dissuade you from self-exclusion or make a mistake that stops it taking effect.
If you do gamble during self-exclusion you should let the site know, so they can check how it happened, and you might also inform the Gambling Commission so they are aware and can investigate if needed.
Since March 2020, it has been possible to self-exclude from all online operators by simply registering with GAMSTOP. This is similar to operator self-exclusion and will last at least six months or longer if you choose. However, unlike operator self-exclusion you will not have any outstanding balances returned or be unsubscribed from operator emails. You will, therefore, still have to visit operator websites to deal with these.
There are a number of organisations that can help you if you have been affected by problem gambling, either as a gambler or close to a problem gambler. All these sites have resources to help, they are confidential and you can remain anonymous if you wish.
The key thing to remember, as with any problem, is that you are not alone. If you feel need help, you just need to ask.
Sarah Price - Editor
Sarah Price is a well know expert in the field of Online Bingo. She began her career with an MSc in Computing and IT from Cardiff University before working within the industry with names like Foxy and 888Ladies.