Gambling should be fun, sadly for some people it becomes anything but. At BettingOffers we promote responsible gambling and want to ensure everyone in our community enjoys gambling, knows how to control their betting and where they can get help if they, or someone close to them, needs it.
What is responsible gambling
There is no set definition for responsible gambling. Like many things in life it’s a hobby that millions of people have without causing them any problems at all. But, for some people, gambling can dominate their lives to the detriment of everything else.
Everyone’s gambling habits are different, and what might be a problem for one punter is absolutely fine for another.
If you bet because you enjoy it and the time and money you spend isn’t a problem you are probably fine. However, if you find yourself gambling to cover losses, spending too much on bets or missing out on other, important, parts of your life so you can bet you may have a problem.
The key is understanding your limits and motivations: when the fun stops, stop.
What bookmakers and betting sites do
It’s important to remember that it’s in bookmakers interests to help you gamble responsibly. As a business they are far more successful having lots of customers gambling over a long time. They also need to ensure they meet the legal requirements of their licence.
The UK Gambling Commission is one of the strictest licensing authorities in the world and will take harsh measures against bookies that fail in their responsibilities. In 2020, they fined Betway a record £11.6 million for, in part, their failure to help punters gamble responsibly.
Bookmakers themselves also have voluntary codes they follow to help ensure their customers know their limits and don’t let things get out of control. Some of the voluntary measures they have introduced were so successful they have been adopted by the ommission.
The following are the ways that bookies help keep you safe.
Knowing their customers
Bookies have to undertake identity checks on anyone setting up an account. These checks are used for several purposes, but one of them is to help make sure that people who are under 18 or on self-exclusions don’t try to start gambling.
All betting sites have to offer punters the ability to have cooling-off periods. These are short periods that the punter can start during which they are unable to use the site. The site will offer a set of fixed periods, up to six weeks, but you can request any period up to that length that you like. During the cooling-off period you will still be a site member, and receive messages and marketing from the bookie, but you won’t be able to place any bets.
These are useful if you feel things are getting a little heated, or perhaps you have spent your budget and need to give your will power a little bit of extra help.
Self-exclusions are a step beyond cooling-off periods. These can be set at between six months and five years, or indefinitely, and are available if you have a gambling problem.
Depending on how you set up your self-exclusion will affect exactly how it works. If you request it directly from your bookmaker’s site then your account will, effectively, be deleted for the duration of the exclusion, and you will not be able to set up another. You will also be excluded from any other sites within the same company.
If you use GamStop, you will be not be able to gamble with any UK-licensed casino. However, you will still receive marketing emails from sites you have registered with and will need to visit those sites to stop them.
In both cases you will need to re-activate any accounts you have, with a short cooling-off period before you can use them. They will not automatically be re-opened.
Deposit and loss limits
You can set limits on sites to control your play. These are ideal if you have a budget for gambling because you won’t be able to exceed it. It’s also useful to help stop you from impulsively trying to win back losses, since you won’t be able to make ‘just one more’ bet if that last one didn’t work for you.
While these are useful, they are limited to the site you set them up on. So if you were struggling to control your betting this might not be the solution for you.
Controlling your betting
The best way to ensure you don’t have a problem is to take steps to avoid one before it starts.
One useful way is to think about why you gamble. If you like a flutter on football, then set a weekly budget so you don’t get carried away mid-week and then spend too much on Saturday but, instead, spread your bets over the matches that matter to you.
If gambling is something you do to relax then focus on that, and be mindful if the reasons you are gambling change. It’s easy to find that something you do to unwind becomes something you feel you need to deal with stress or to escape.
And it’s always useful to self-assess your gambling from time to time by asking yourself a few key questions:
- Are you spending too much time and money on gambling?
- Are you finding it hard to stop gambling?
- Are you gambling to recover losses you have made while gambling?
- Have others told you they are worried, or have you argued with others about how much you are betting?
- Are you hiding your gambling from others?
- Are you using money meant for other things to gamble, or even borrowing or stealing to gamble?
- Do you feel unhappy, depressed or stressed about gambling?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you might have a problem.
There are a number of free, totally confidential services you can contact:
Any of these services can help in a friendly, non-judgmental way. The most important step will always be asking for help.
Keith Hetherton - Chief Editor
Keith Hetherton is a seasoned expert in football and betting offers. Keith studied business and computers in University of Greenwich before working with the likes of William Hill and GVC.