For many people in the gambling community, online gambling is an entertaining and enjoyably activity, offering players the chance to play wherever and whenever they please, with 97 percent of online gamblers recorded in 2016 as participating from the comfort of their own homes.
However, for some, online gambling can become problematic, and can present a wide range of issues that can drastically affect a person’s life. Therefore, responsible gambling practices are essential tools used by the online gambling community to help stop people leading towards what is known as ‘problem gambling.’ Furthermore, online casinos in the UK are continuously working to ensure that they operate to responsible gaming standards, with those at risk, not easily able to gamble online.
What is Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling is something that can occur when a player has lost a key element of control of their gambling. This is characterised primarily by the struggle to control the amount of money and time spent gambling online or offline. It can affect numerous aspects of a person’s life, including:
- Decline in mental and/or physical health, including stress, depression and anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts and even attempts
- Drastic financial loss leading to bankruptcy
- Creating a negative impact on the gambler and those around them, including neglectful and aggressive behaviour towards family and friends
- Legal problems, including, but not limited to, theft and fraud
- Decline in work performance
A 2015 study estimated that there are 430,000 problem gamblers, 2 million deemed ‘at risk’ of such gambling in Great Britain alone, and a further report noted the most ‘at risk’ age categories of problem gambling in men starts at the impressionable age of 16.
A raised awareness of the prevention methods is an essential component to this online community. Furthermore, such methods to help prevent the fall into problem gambling are vital to ensure an enjoyable and safe environment within the online gambling community.
What is Responsible Gambling and Why is it Important?
Responsible gambling is what it says on the tin. It refers to when the player makes sensible and informed decisions regarding their gambling, ensuring it does not affect their quality of life in the way that problem gambling does.
What makes a responsible gambler is mainly the control they practice over their gambling conduct; able to distinguish it as purely for entertainment purposes and balancing their usage with other external activities in their free time.
In addition to this, responsible gamblers will have total awareness and respect with regards to the risks that come with gambling, which helps in the prevention of problem gambling.
The Roles of Gambling Operators
As well as the user’s role, the online gambling operators also have a part to play in promoting responsible, and reducing problematic gambling and there are a range of rules and regulations in the gambling industry that must be adhered to by operators. Some of the key features operators use to achieve this are:
- Creating domains that prevent triggers for the development of problem gambling
- Promoting domains preventing said triggers, reducing the ways in which people can fall victim to problem gambling
- Promoting a general awareness of the risks that come with gambling.
- Listening to and answering the questions/concerns of the gambling community
- Self-exclusion schemes such as ‘GamStop’ – although its effectiveness recently brought into question, the online self-exclusion scheme was set up by the UK government as a prevention method for problem gamblers. The site allows problem gamblers the option to ‘self-exclude’ themselves from all online gambling websites
With one of the largest groups at risk of online problem gambling in being younger than the age groups most likely to self-exclude (stop themselves from playing), it is becoming increasingly more pressing to promote a healthy and responsible attitude towards the online gambling community.
Responsible gambling is therefore an extremely important element of this community, helping to promote healthy behaviours and attitudes within the online circle, in addition to being a key element in the fight to reduce problem gambling.