Gambling has been a popular pastime for centuries, going back thousands of years. But for gambling to remain fun and exciting for players, it is a necessity to gamble responsibly.

With the ease of access to online casinos, problem gambling has become an issue affecting a huge number of people on a daily basis, who find their problems hard to overcome.

We believe the best way forward is an active approach to responsible gambling and in the guide below we outline what to consider before, during and after gambling as well as how to get help.

What to consider before gambling 

Before you even start gambling online, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself. Only choosing sites with a valid gambling license from a respected governing body is important as they uphold high standards of customer protection and fair play protocol.

These operators help protect players from betting more than they can afford to lose with loss limits. You should also set a figure you are prepared to lose before you start playing. You can set deposit and loss limits at online casinos which will help you stick to your gambling budgets and prevent your finances spiralling out of control.

Thinking about why you are gambling is really important – if it is to have some fun with the thrill of a wager that is okay but we don’t recommend entering into a casino website for the sole purpose of making money or using gambling as a source of regular income.

What to consider when gambling 

Once you have started gambling online, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself stay safe and in control.

Firstly, never gambling under the influence of drink or drugs is key. This can help make sure you are aware of your betting decisions at all times and don’t inadvertently place higher bets that you’d not feel comfortable with when sober.

Ensuring you know the rules of the game you are playing may sound obvious, but is a must. That will enable you to have all the information when you make a wager. You don’t want to be losing money as you get to grips with a certain game – playing free games is a good way of learning the ropes without risking any cash unnecessarily. 

Setting time limits for when you play is important – it’s not healthy to stay up half the night on an online casino. You shouldn’t be relying on gambling as your only source of entertainment either.

Having already set your budget, it might be tempting to keep playing for just a little more. But take a break, remember why you set that budget and stick to it. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking a winning streak will go on forever – the house edge of online casino games means that most players will also lose money in the long run.

Red flags to watch out for when gambling 

If you remain watchful for certain signs of irresponsible gambling, you can potentially help avoid a source of enjoyment turning into a potential problem.

If you are neglecting other aspects of your life in order to spend more time at online casinos such as socialising with family or friends, meeting work deadlines or not looking after yourself, this could be a bad sign.

Consider how much of a role gambling plays in your daily life and take steps to address this if it does not feel healthy. Keeping your gambling hobby from your partner or friends is an unhealthy trait – why would you not tell people if you felt it was okay? Borrowing money is also a big concern as this means you are gambling more than you can afford to. If you’re getting into the habit of selling things then you have gone too far.

If gambling has become the main source of happiness in your life or you feel bad at the thought of taking a break, then it could be time to seek help. Constantly thinking about gambling is a signal it could have become an addiction for you.

How to deal with problem gambling 

If you think you have a gambling problem or are getting one, the first thing to do is to stop. Self-exclusion services are available where an operator can exclude you from playing for a specific amount of time, from months to years, with your account closed and the balance returned to you. Responsible and licensed casinos allow customers to set time-out limits, which prevent them from logging into their accounts for a specified shorter amount of time.

The same is possible with deposit limits, but instead they limit how much players can deposit into their account over a period of time, which will help you stay in your budget and not lose more than you can afford.

Loss limits fulfil a similar function preventing you from making excessive losses over a period of time, while you can also unsubscribe from promotions to avoid the temptation to support or finally contact customer support, perhaps through their live chat service to get help immediately.

How to seek help

If you decide you need help with your gambling problem, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you. Organisations with trained advisers can offer confidential support to those worried about their gambling. We’d recommend reaching out to gambling charities such as Gamblers Anonymous as well as friends and family if you ever need support.