Responsible Gambling

Stop Gambling SignGambling is a fun hobby for many and, in an ideal world, everyone who gambled would view it simply as an enjoyable pastime, with occasional wins and happy days and other days where the thrill and enjoyment of betting more than compensated for any financial losses. However, of course, the world we inhabit is far from ideal and sadly gambling, as with many things in life, including alcohol, food, cigarettes and even shopping, can become an addiction for some.

We fully support and promote responsible gambling and here we take a look at what we mean by the term “responsible gambling”, as well as how to spot when a gambling habit is starting to get out of control, what options are available from bookies to help you bet more responsibly and what alternative options are available for you (or someone you know) to get help.

What is Responsible Gambling?

There is no real set definition of the term “responsible gambling” and of course it depends on a lot more than how much one loses, or indeed whether one wins or loses at all. One player could lose huge sums and yet be seen to be gambling responsibly, whilst another may make a small but regular profit and yet have something of a gambling problem. There are lots of interlinked factors but below are just two simple questions that we feel are important when it comes to addressing the notion of responsible betting.

  1. Can you afford it? - for gambling to be responsible you must be able to afford it and that means never betting more than you can afford to lose. Betting, by definition, is risky and even the best bets can lose so always betting within your means is crucial to responsible gambling. Bets that are priced at odds of 1/2 will probably lose around 30% of the time whilst bets at odds of short as 1/50, 1/100 or even 1/1000 still lose on a regular basis. There is no such thing as a sure thing.
  2. Are you having fun? - we said above that even a player regularly winning may have a problem and that’s because gambling should be fun. If it takes over your life, becomes an obsession or dominates your thinking, causing you worry and stress, it isn’t fun, you aren’t gambling responsibly and you may have a problem.

How to Spot Gambling That is Getting Out of Control

If you can honestly answer yes to both questions above then the chances are all is well in the world and we wish you the best of luck with your weekly football accumulator, daily bet on the horses, once a year punt on the Grand National or whatever it is that floats your betting boat. However, if you have your doubts about your own gambling, or that of others, the signs listed below may be indicators of problem gambling (these are taken from GambleAware, of which more below):

  • Are you spending more time/money on gambling than feels comfortable?
  • Do you find it hard to stop, control or manage your gambling?
  • Do you argue with your partner, family or friends about your gambling or money?
  • Have you lost interest in other hobbies or activities?
  • Do you often think or talk about betting?
  • Do you lie about your gambling or hide its extent from those close to you?
  • Do you chase losses or try to solve financial difficulties by gambling?
  • Have you borrowed money to gamble?
  • Do you gamble until you lose all your money?
  • Have you sold belongings or not paid bills to fund your bets?
  • Are you betting bigger and/or for a longer time to get the same thrill?
  • Are you neglecting family, friends, home life, school, work or other commitments to gamble?
  • Do you worry about your gambling?
  • Do other people worry about your gambling?
  • Does your betting make you worry or make you depressed, angry, frustrated, anxious or guilty?

If you recognise some or all of the above signs in yourself or someone you know then getting help (or encouraging them to do so) is probably a good idea. Of course, this isn’t always easy, especially where the problem lies with someone else but there are organisations listed below who can help, whether you are directly affected by this issue or whether it’s a friend or family member.

What Options do Bookies Offer to Help?

If the problem is yours or you simply feel you are maybe gambling a little too much, bookies and online casinos (and poker, bingo sites et cetera) offer a range of choices when it comes to trying to put you back in control of your situation and to help you gamble more responsibly.

These are a good first step but if your gambling is already at an extreme or worrying level we would recommend trying to quit entirely or seeking advice from one of the respected organisations listed below. If, however, you simply want to make it easier for you to manage your gambling in a more sensible manner, checking out the “Responsible Gambling” (or similar) tab at your favourite online betting site is a great place to start.

You will be given a range of options that should make it a lot easier for you continue gambling, but in a healthier way. The main options are:

  • Deposit Limit - you can set a deposit limit that means you will only be able to gamble a certain amount within a given timeframe. The options vary from site to site but you usually have the choice of setting a very low maximum deposit of as little as £5 or even less and you can alter how long this is valid for, for example £5 per day, week or even month. It usually takes 24 hours to change this limit upwards, giving you time to think about the decision before acting upon it, and making it much harder for your gambling to spiral out of control.
  • Cooling Off Period - some, though sadly not all, sites, allow you to set a cooling off period, where no bets or gambling will be allowed on the site for a length of time determined by you. This may be as little as a day or as long as a couple of months. Again, this is a great way to give yourself time and space to think about whether you are really happy to keep betting.
  • Self-Exclude - the strongest step to take if you really feel you can’t control your gambling and simply want to remove temptation is to self-exclude. Some of the best sites around offer the option to do this for one part of the site but not another and also offer differing lengths of exclusion. Exclusion is normally for a minimum of six months up to a maximum of five years, although permanent exclusion via closing your account is also an option. As said, some sites will allow you to exclude yourself from their casino, for example, but continue using the rest of their gambling products, such as bingo, poker and sports, whilst at other companies you will have to exclude yourself from all of their betting facilities.

Where Else can I Get Help with a Gambling Problem?

Of course, the steps listed above may be insufficient for someone with a major problem and are, of course, equally powerless to help someone who doesn’t realise they have a problem, or who isn’t prepared to help themselves. However, thankfully there are a large number of (mainly) free bodies and organisations who can help people with problem gambling and also the friends and family of sufferers. Here we list just a few but any of these should also be able to help refer those in need to a more appropriate or specific organisation.

  • National Gambling Helpline - call this free UK body on 0808 8020 133, email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their website at gamcare.org.uk
  • National Debtline - for help with debt and financial problems caused by gambling visit nationaldebtline.org
  • Citizens Advice Bureau - the Citizens Advice Bureau can help with a huge range of issues and are a great option to sign post you towards other organisations if needed (see citizensadvice.org.uk)
  • Gordon Moody Association - the Gordon Moody Association is a body that offers intensive residential treatment for those with more extreme problems. Call them on 01384 241292 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • National Problem Gambling Clinic - the National Problem Gambling Clinic are based in London but offer nationwide help on 020 7381 7722
  • Gamblers Anonymous - Perhaps the best know gambling help organisation, GA can be reached here: gamblersanonymous.org.uk/index.php/contact-us

Finally, we have to say that when it comes to gambling responsibly, just two simple rules can help massively. First, and perhaps most importantly, don’t try to chase your losses. Set yourself an amount that you would feel comfortable losing if things don’t go your way and when that limit is met, simply accept your losses and bet no more that day. Trying to win back what you have lost by having one more bet, no matter how good a bet you persuade yourself it is, is a terrible idea. An even worse idea, yet one that remains hugely popular and a very easy trap to fall into, is to increase your stake when you are losing.

The Martingale System, usually used for roulette, is a doomed betting system that doubles your stake after every losing bet, the theory being that in so doing, any single win will return you to profit (assuming a bet at even money odds). Variations of the Martingale are commonly used by people chasing losses as they seek to dig themselves out of a deep hole with one big win but, sadly, more often than not, they simply end in a hole of ever-increasing depth, having suffered a loss they can ill afford.

So, our first rule is to NEVER chase losses, whilst our second rule is to quit whilst you’re ahead. Both of these rules sit nicely along with our warning signs to watch out for and whilst chasing losses can lead to huge losses, not knowing when to stop ensures you never win. Literally and obviously, though not so obviously that many people find it easy to follow, quitting when you’re ahead is the ONLY way to make a profit from betting.

Playing until one loses all one’s money is a sure sign of problem gambling but it’s all too common, especially in a casino environment. In sport you have the natural finish of a racing card, a match or a tournament (though, of course, in a global age there is pretty much always SOMETHING to bet on for those who are determined!). However, casino games, poker and bingo can all be played continually and unless you know when to stop, a negative outcome is assured.

Set yourself an attainable target profit, be that on a given day or week of betting and as and when you reach it, simply stop. Ideally we would also recommend using that money for a specific purpose, either to save for a holiday, car or new house or perhaps to buy yourself or someone close to you a present. By doing this you have something tangible to show for your successful betting and that helps keeps things fun, whereas if you simply leave the money in your online account the temptation is always there to bet again… and again.

We hope you can resist that temptation but if you find that your gambling is starting to become problematic, or you are concerned about a loved one, we hope this article and the contact information given above has been of some use.