Responsible gambling guide

Gamble responsibly's guide to responsible gambling

This guide aims to offer practical advice to help people gamble responsibly. Our responsible gambling guide is intended for everyone, not just people who may have "gambling problems". That being said, we do suggest resources for anyone who feels that their gambling might be getting out of control.

Responsible gambling - background

The UK Gambling Commission requires gambling operators to "provide information to customers about gambling responsibly". Although we're a betting and gambling directory (not a gambling operator), we're still keen to help people gamble responsibly. Our guide reflects our own thoughts plus suggestions from a range of sites that are required by law to provide information about responsible gambling.

1. Age 18 and over in the UK

Our gambling directory features betting and gambling sites for people in the UK. By law, you'll need to be aged 18 or over to open an account and bet or gamble - underage gambling is a criminal offence. Gambling operators recommend that parents consider using parental control software (such as Net Nanny) to prevent shared computers from being used by children for gambling. You should also be extremely careful to never leave a PC unattended whilst logged into a betting or gambling account. Gambling sites will hold you responsible for all activity on the account. Some operators have listed their sites with ICRA (formerly the Internet Control and Rating Agency, now part of the Family Online Safety Institute). Such labelling helps ISPs and others using software filters to identify gambling and betting sites, reducing children's exposure to them.

2. Monitor your gambling activity and spend

However and wherever you gamble, it's important to keep track of your overall gambling activity and control your spending. It may sound obvious, but bear with us. In the UK, we can gamble in all sorts of different ways. For example, you may gamble online by playing casino games, poker or bingo. Or by betting with online bookmakers. You may play the National Lottery, buy scratchcards or play the football pools. You might gamble online, visit betting shops and/or play slot machines. Overall gambling spend can soon add up.

Most sites offering advice on responsible gambling encourage you to consider gambling as entertainment. By this, they mean you should only ever gamble with money that you can afford - and are willing - to lose. Consider the possible financial cost as a price you're willing to pay for enjoying the process of gambling. Most gambling sites offer the facility to set your own limit on how much you can deposit into your account within a certain time period. This can be a very effective way to apply your own controls. The option can usually be found in the account settings or cashier areas of your online account. Increases in deposit limits are usually subject to at least a 24 hour delay. Gambling sites should also offer the ultimate control of "self-exclusion" - arranging to have your account closed and for the gambling operator to try their best to prevent you from opening any new accounts in future. Note: this is different to just closing your account - you should ask specifically for the self-exclusion facility.

It's also important to keep track of time when gambling. Like any other forms of entertainment, betting and gambling should be enjoyed in moderation and in balance with other ways of spending your leisure time (like being with family, friends, pursuing hobbies, etc).

3. Gambling odds don't change

Another way of saying "don't throw good money after bad" or "don't chase losses". If you find yourself losing, you may be tempted to double up your bets in the hope of recovering your loss in a hurry. This can just as easily lead to doubling your losses. The poker term "tilt" refers to frustration (often caused by losing a big hand). A player "on tilt" may bet over-aggressively, often to the benefit of other players. Whether you're betting or gambling, if you get frustrated, take time out - don't let emotions dictate your gambling behaviour.

4. Know the rules of the game

This may sound obvious. Yet some people will play, say, poker for real money when they don't know the ranking order of winning hands. Take time to learn what's going on before you risk any money. Most online gaming sites let you gamble for free (using virtual money), so you can learn how to play. They usually also offer rules, guides and tutorials. And if you're playing a game like poker and still can't remember what beats what, print out a guide so you can refer to it during play.

5. Problem gambling

The following questions are from problem gambling checklists on gambling operators' websites. The more times you answer yes, the more probable it is that you have, or are developing, a gambling problem:

- Do you avoid study or work to gamble?
- Do you gamble until you've lost all your money?
- Do you gamble to avoid being unhappy or bored?
- When you lose money gambling, do you feel desperately upset and want to gamble again asap?
- Have others criticised your gambling activity?

- Have you lied, stolen or borrowed for gambling?
- Have you told lies about gambling losses?
- Do you resent spending gambling money on other things?
- Have you lost interest in your friends or family?
- Have you ever felt depressed or even suicidal due to gambling?

6. Problem gambling help and support

If you have any concerns at all, don't hesitate to seek help., GamCare and Gamblers Anonymous are all UK organisations that offer help and resources for people suffering with gambling problems. Gam-Anon offers help to the families and friends of compulsive gamblers.

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All offers are new customer offers for UK residents aged 18+. Terms & conditions apply - see sites for details:

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The following gambling news headlines refer to articles from the offers blog. Click on the title to visit our news section and read these and other UK gambling and betting news articles in full:

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Resources and advice features gambling sites for UK consumers aged 18+. We urge responsible attitudes and behaviour when gambling. Resources, help & info:

-'s responsible gambling guide;
- Gamble Aware - advice about gambling;
- GamCare - online, phone & counselling support;
- Gamblers Anonymous - fellowship-based help.