What Does Responsible Gambling Entail?
The world of online gambling is moving at a prodigious pace and not always for the better. There are literally thousands of player scalps mounted on the virtual walls of unethical operators. Out of the sea of online gaming sites only a handful are reputable. Although gamblers are the lifeblood of any casino operation they don’t always receive the treatment they’re supposed to.
Every single online casino has a section on their websites dedicated to ‘Responsible Gambling‘. Just to be clear I’m by no means an expert when it comes to gambling online and its intricacies. A seasoned veteran by the name of ‘ValDes’ over at AskGamblers.com wrote a superb piece on the topic. In this article I’m going to take a closer look at what responsible gaming entails and its role in the grander scheme of things. For additional reading I highly recommend this article.
Responsible Gambling A Hit or Miss?
What exactly is responsible gaming? As part of their player-protection policy, operators allow players the facility to place deposit, session limits and to self-exclude themselves for a certain period of time. It can range from a week to a couple of months to indefinitely. Whether operators add this for legal or for moral reasons I’ll never know. One of the things I’ve often questioned is the deposit limit. Reason being, if you’re a problem gambler it can easily be changed, a long period of self-exclusion seems to be the only solution in this case.
The shorter the time is between placing the bet and the result, the greater the risk. How does one define problem gambling? It is an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a need to stop. To asses the extent of problem gambling in a country, comprehensive surveys also known as ‘prevalence’ studies are carried out.
Very few players have the financial means to ‘unlock’ a jackpot of a progressive game. Sometimes they feel like they have the wealth of Bill Gates or a Sheldon Adelson. In a sense, online casinos have the ability to create a false sense of superiority. What do I mean by this? Once the player is seated in front of his computer he can develop a ‘God-like-syndrome’ by feeling ‘untouchable’ and ‘invincible’, especially when they receive a bonus that will even make a sultan smile. When you get caught up in the moment decent wins can decline like Sunday congregations in an Anglican church.
Online gambling provides operators with more sophisticated possibilities to track the transactions of each player compared to the prevalence to offline betting formats. Online gambling data allow for studies of the player’s real behavior. A study of online gaming behavior was carried out by the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical school. The institution found the following:
- Based on a long term analysis of individual gaming activity of a random sample of 50,000 online casino and sports betting participants from 80 countries. The study indicated that 99% of the customers of online sports betting did not display any unusual gaming behavior compared to 95% in the case of players who gambled online.
- The British Gambling Prevalence Survey carried out from the Gambling Commission in 2007 found that addiction rates for online gambling in the United Kingdom were lower for certain types of offline games. Addiction seemed to increase if more ”attractive” types of games were released, whether online or offline.
Problem Gamblers:Ask Yourself The Following Questions
Together with facilities for limiting deposits and self-exclusion, the bookmakers offer a list of questions that the client must answer to ascertain whether he or she is a problem gambler or not.
If you visit the responsible gambling section of most operators you’ll find the following questions listed on that page:
- Is your gambling problem of such a nature that you often stay away from college or work?
- Do you use gambling as a means to get rich, pay off debt or to escape from your boring or unhappy life?
- When you run out of money do you feel lost or despair and need to gamble as soon as possible?
- Do you gamble until you don’t have a cent left. That it becomes so bad that you don’t have money to pay your next month’s rent or to buy food?
- Do you often lie to cover your gambling addiction?
- Are you often criticized by friends or family?
- Have you lost interest in your family, friends or hobbies?
- If you’ve lost do you feel you must win back the cash you’ve lost immediately?
- Do arguments, frustrations or disappointments make you want to gamble?
- Is depression one of the main reasons why you gamble?
- Do you feel suicidal?
As you go through the list try and answer the questions as truthfully as possible. Remember, you can easily con others but not yourself. Hopefully these questions will shock you into the realization that you do have a gambling problem. On our website we have links to support groups such as ‘Gamblers Anonymous‘. One of the main reasons why problem gamblers don’t ask for help is not because they are shy but because they believe that they have the willpower to stop. Or it can be that they are not prepared to give up gambling altogether despite using self-exclusion after self-exclusion.
By the time you sever the ties with an operator, you might realize that you are well and truly in serious debt. At the end of the day you can’t blame the online casino for ruining your life just because you lacked the self-discipline to stop. However, being human we always tend to blame someone else for our personal problems and not ourselves.
What Are The Signs Of A Problem Gambler?
You begin to realize that you have a gambling problem when you’re refused credit. This has never been a problem before since banks have always fallen over their feet to help you. Some problem gamblers even claim that it came to a stage where they couldn’t even afford their next week’s fuel to get to work. When you fall into gambling debt it becomes a never ending vicious cycle since you have to juggle with what little cash you have left.
When you have 10 quid left that must last you a week. And the galling thing is as soon as you realize that it’s all self-inflicted. I’ve heard of a case where someone mortgaged his house just to pay off his gambling debt. If you do apply for a loan, please don’t approach the pay day loan companies. With their exorbitant interests rates (between 25 and 30 percent) they are the sharks and you are the sardine. Just like being ‘fleeced’ by an online casino, borrowers who fall into pay day loan debt have only themselves to blame.
As with any form of advertising, psychology plays an important part in seducing the victim. Just as the operators lure you with the promise of easily acquired riches, the pay day loan companies also cast their wicket spell. Coincidentally, online casinos and the pay day loan companies also have the word ‘quick’ in their titles. Recent studies have discovered similarities between gambling and substance addiction. There are contrary views with regard to the addictive potential of online gambling. Although remote gambling fulfills the criteria of availability and accessibility, making frequent playing easier in case of land-based gambling venues. It is difficult to draw direct links between remote gambling and the likelihood of becoming an addicted gambler.
If you apply for a pay day loan it’s far more ‘convenient’ than applying for a normal bank loan. Why? If you apply for a normal bank loan the banks want to know your entire pedigree, who your father was, great-grandmother, employment history and so on. Whilst the application process for a pay day loan is simple. Plus they don’t care how many other creditors you have.
Tactics Operators Use
Online gambling sites lets players win now and again otherwise they won’t remain in business for long. This is also a vary important tactic they use since they know that most gamblers are greedy and never content with what they’ve won. Most problem gamblers often say if only they stopped while they were ahead they would have paid off their house or car ages ago. Another mistake most players make is that they become impatient.
The greater the payout and probability of winning, the greater the delusion that lost stakes can be won back. Therefore, it increases the risk significantly since it’s linked to ”excitement” which can create a ”dream-like” effect. The possibility of getting involved in the event being gambled on and using one’s own skills to asses the chances of winning is based on the ‘near-miss’ psychology. This strengthens the feeling that one is in control of the game, thereby increasing the risk. This effect may be enhanced when some element of skill rather than purely chance is perceived to be a characteristic of the game.
Also, different types of bets might pose different risks to players. For example, fast payout slots machines, scratch cards and casino games are considered to be the most problematic in this respect. Lottery games that are run on a weekly basis poses less of a risk.
Where To From Here?
Once you’ve fallen into to debt, you’re considered a credit risk and most banks will avoid you like the plague. Banks in the United Kingdom work on a points system and if you don’t meet their criteria, they show you the door in a very polite way. If you’re a problem gambler seek help immediately.
- If you gamble frequently there will always be one winner and that won’t be you. If you had a profitable session stop playing.
- Never ever pay for debt management help since it’s for free in the UK. There are many companies such as Citizens Advice, National Debtline and Payplan that offer their service for free.
- The only people that profit from sustained gambling are the bookmakers.
- Some operators offer free slot games where you can ‘hone your skills’. Truth be told this is a sales pitch since every game is based purely on luck and require no skill whatsoever.
- Keep a detailed record of your wins and losses.
Can An Online Casino Refuse To Close Your Account?
The simple answer is no. There has been a case recently where a player requested that his account at Leo Vegas and 32Red casinos be closed-both operators refused to do so. This is not ethical and it contravenes the jurisdiction’s policies in which they are licensed.
Most gambling addictions start when players feel they don’t have to work if they can make a few thousand dollars on one spin-the equivalent to five or six months salary. Players who won substantial amounts of cash often feel that they can replicate it. The bookmakers know this and they depend on the player believing this. The harsh reality is that it seldom happens. Such luck is transient as the truth from a politician’s mouth.
Electronic games such as slots machines are far more random, psychologically more enticing than sports betting or table games. After all, slots are not called the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling for nothing. If you place a given amount on sports betting you more or less know the return on your bet but not with slots.
The gambling bug can be slow and insidious, it always starts off with a little bit of fun. The problem starts when you have a couple of wins that exceed your monthly salary. When this happens it’s extremely difficult not to become hooked since many players believe they can make a living from gambling online.
1. National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG): http://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/responsible-gaming/
2. Gambleaware: http://www.gambleaware.co.uk/recognise-a-problem[addtoany]