RESPONSIBLE GAMING - gambling addiction and the protection of minors

What is responsible gaming and why do people get gambling addiction?

 

Not sure if you or someone close to you has gambling problems?

 

Where gambling addiction starts, how to recognise it, how to address it and how to protect minors from dealing with the same questions, find the answers in this article.

WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE GAMING?

What is responsible gaming?

With the increased popularity of online gambling, the need for tools or policies that make online gambling experience safer is also on the rise. Responsible gaming or responsible gambling is a very broad concept that aims to bring better quality to gambling, improve safety and decrease the chances of developing gambling addiction problems. Responsible gaming is not only referring to gambling addiction but also comprises of policies aiming to prevent underage individuals (under 18 or 21 years) from gambling.

 

The concept of responsible gaming can be categorized into 7 main areas:

1. Vulnerable gamblers protection

Vulnerable gamblers protection aims to provide a more responsible experience for gamblers that have difficulty limiting their betting and that are inclined to become addicted to gambling. This is the most common area of responsible gaming because it includes the tools used by gambling companies like self exclusion, deposit limit, wager limit, etc. You can check the whole list of responsible gaming tools later in this article.

2. Underage gambling prevention

Another widely recognized policy is the prevention of minors gambling. The majority of the online casinos we see today must ensure that players are above 18 (or 21 depending on the country) in order to start playing. This policy should be presented at the registration process where you must agree that you are 18 years and above and confirm that you agree with their Terms & Conditions (thus taking on the responsibility if you break the law by giving a false statement). Many operators also require additional verification steps after the registration to ensure the age of the gambler.

minors protection

3. Information privacy

It is the casino’s responsibility to take all the necessary steps to protect the player’s privacy. Sensitive information about the gamblers like their name and surname, address, phone number and other personal data need to be well secured, with additional authentication methods like 2-factor authentication (or a code generator), security questions, IP whitelisting, email authorization, etc.

information privacy resp.gaming

4. Ethical and responsible marketing

Although regulations can change over time, it is the casino’s responsibility to comply with the current and relevant ones. This often means that the casino should not use the player’s personal information for direct marketing purposes (except in the case where the casino obtained explicit permission from the user to do so). The responsible gaming concept states that the company should also not advertise to people who have self excluded themselves, people who are categorized as vulnerable gamblers, or to minors.

ethical marketing in gaming

5. Creation of a secure online environment

This lies on the principle of protecting information privacy and expands to making the environment safe by encrypting payments and technical processes.

6. Safety measures against criminal activity

Just like other e-commerce websites, gambling websites can be a target of malicious software or other cyber attacks. Casinos need to insert certain programs and predetermined procedures that should detect and prevent fraud and money laundering activities, as well as hacking devices. Not only is this an important part of responsible gaming, but is also crucial when developing a gaming website.

Safety measures in responsible gaming

7. Online payment protection

This addresses really sensitive data about players, namely personal and financial information. Casinos should make sure that they are processing payments only with secure and reliable payment solutions (platforms or e-wallets).

online payment protection in gaming

GAMBLING ADDICTION

Gambling problem, gambling addiction, compulsive gambling and gambling disorder are the most common terms used to describe a person who is showing an uncontrollable urge to gamble more and more, overlooking the negative aspects that this might bring to his life. A number of studies have shown that addicted gamblers are particularly motivated by the possibility of winning. While most of the players take up gambling when looking for a fun pastime, others may see it as a means of generating income. And this is where things can go wrong.

 

We all see advertisements warning us that gambling should not be looked at as a source of income, but should be used recreationally, being aware of the risks. A number of studies concluded that problem gamblers not only see this as an income-generating activity, but they overestimate the likelihood of winning which leads them to spend excessively.

Interesting question
Is gambling addiction a mental illness?
Lots of gamblers have stated that gambling addiction has negatively affected their mental health. Addictions are brain diseases that can be identified and treated by professionals and are therefore considered a mental illness just like alcoholism and other behavioural addictions.

CAUSES OF GAMBLING ADDICTION

What causes addiction to gambling?

 

It is not that easy to categorize what exactly causes this disorder and most reasons include a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors.

 

Biological factors, way of thinking and negative social situations can increase the likelihood of developing gambling addiction. People that have schizophrenia, mood problems, antisocial personality disorder and other addictive behaviours (including abusing drugs and alcohol) have a higher risk of developing addiction problems.

Interesting question
Why do people get addicted to gambling?
Many factors can contribute to gambling addiction including desperation for money, the desire to experience thrills and highs, the social status associated with being a successful gambler and the entertaining atmosphere of the mainstream gambling scene.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are considered as determinants or variables that increase the possibility of getting a disease, infection, or developing some condition. When we talk about gambling addiction and what can contribute to developing one we are essentially looking for risk factors.

 

So, who is more susceptible to developing gambling addiction?

 

Basically anyone who gambles risks developing addiction at least to some degree. However, some predetermined risk factors can be connected to problem gambling:

AGE

People who started gambling in childhood or as teenagers have an increased risk of developing a gambling disorder.

SEX

Although this activity is more common in men, women develop gambling addiction in later years at higher rates (they get addicted quicker).

FAMILY OR FRIEND INFLUENCE

Psychological and societal issues where people are in direct influence of others who experience or have experienced gambling.

PERSONALITY TRAITS

Highly competitive, workaholic, impulsive and restless are some of the personal traits often ascribed to compulsive gamblers.

SITUATIONAL FACTORS

Money problems (or winning a large amount of money and thinking you can double it) or suffering a recent loss (e.g. divorce or job loss).

SIGNS OF GAMBLING ADDICTION

Some common signs can be evident in players that have developed gambling addiction. When you notice that you might have some of these signs it is a good time to revise your gambling behaviour and take a few precautions. The same is recommended if you wish to help someone close to you address this problem. If you ever asked yourself what is gambling addiction, this is what can give you a hint:

  • Obsession: If you’re having obsessive thoughts that urge you to gamble more, this might be an alarming sign that you have developed a compulsive gaming disorder. This is a mental illness and can be cured, just like other obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
  • Lying about your gambling habit: Lies are becoming a part of a daily habit to hide your addiction (by hiding bank statements, receipts, or browser history). In the beginning problem gamblers will lie to friends or family, but this can evolve to lying to themselves to rationalize their spending and playing. This becomes more than a personal problem if it also affects the finances of others around you.
  • Desire to gamble is greater than the risk of possible consequences: Despite knowing the possible legal, physical and emotional outcomes you are ready to risk it all for the satisfaction that gambling brings you. Some addicts may go to the extent of financing their gambling illegally, risking losing a job just to play for one more “win” or spending family savings and thus endangering others around them.
  • Neglecting the negative effects on your life: Even though you can see the emotional toll it takes on your life (dysfunctional emotions like irritability, anxiety, guilt, and sluggishness), you are prepared to trade a win for your mental health. Other negative effects include difficulty networking or maintaining relationships, problems at work and financial problems.

 

Other obvious signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Gambling with more money than you have
  • Expressing guilt after gambling and concern that you are unable to stop
  • Preparedness to commit theft just to finance gambling
  • Chasing losses (trying to recoup the lost money by gambling even more)
  • Using gambling as a way of escaping reality (or certain feelings)
  • Inability to stop gambling – unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop with gambling eventually bring you back to old habits
Interesting question
What type of gambling is the most addictive?
Electronic gambling games are considered to be some of the most addictive gambling types. Gamblers who play using electronic machines become problem gamblers almost 3x earlier than those who stick to table games or racetracks. (source)

TREATMENT AND HELP

It is important to identify signs mentioned above in yourself or a person close to you so you can start working towards how to quit gambling. When your loved one or a close family member or friend is showing many of the signs mentioned above, it is crucial that you offer support and reinforcement so they can start treating this disorder. If responsible gaming tools are not of significant help, it’s recommended to seek professional help (psychologists, mental health professionals, support groups or help centers).

 

In the responsible gaming area, most helpful treatments in fighting gambling addiction are:

  • Therapy: most widely used is CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which teaches you to use your urges as a strength to resist gambling by exposing you to your own behaviour (in a controlled way).
  • Medications: the majority of prescribed medications in the treatment of compulsive gambling include antidepressants, mood stabilizers and narcotic antagonists (usually prescribed for treating substance abuse).
  • Support groups or gambling addiction helpline: can be found online or in your local community. Most online casinos also have a separate category for responsible gaming where they provide links to websites that specialize in this. Most known international online sites where you can find support groups or a gambling helpline are listed below.

 

Acknowledging the situation your are in and committing to yourself that “Yes, I have a gambling problem” and “I can’t stop gambling” is the hardest part, but also shows that you are brave to face the facts and focus on treating gambling addiction.

COUNTRYORGANIZATIONPHONEEMAIL/LIVE CHAT
INTERNATIONAL
GORDON MOODY
Live Chat on sitesupport@gamblingtherapy.org

Gamblers Anonymous
Click here to choose your country and get the most appropriate phone number
Click here to choose your country and get the most appropriate email address or contact the International Service Office:
isomain@gamblersanonymous.org

Gamtalk
Click here to choose your country and get the most appropriate phone numberClick here to choose your country and get the most appropriate email address

Gam-Anon
(+1) 718-352-1671gamanonoffice@gam-anon.org
US
National Council on Problem Gambling
(+1) 800-522-4700 or online live chat< href="mailto:ncpg@ncpgambling.org" rel="noopener noreferrer">ncpg@ncpgambling.org
CANADA
Responsible Gambling Council
Click here to choose your province and get the most appropriate helpline or call
(+1) 416-499-9800
No email address provided
AUSTRALIA
GAMBLE AWARE
1800-858-858Use online contact form
UK
GamCare
0808-8020-133a href="mailto:info@gamcare.org.uk" rel="noopener noreferrer">info@gamcare.org.uk

Gordon Moody
0138-4241-292help@gordonmoody.org.uk
I strongly advise you to seek help from professionals to know how to help someone with gambling addiction before administering any form of help or treatment to yourself or someone else. The above list can be a good start.

TOOLS FOR RESPONSIBLE GAMING

Realizing the importance of gambling treatment and prevention of gambling addiction, most online casinos are nowadays expanding their responsible gaming tools they offer to players. Most of them provide at least the option of self exclusion while some also support loss and wager limits.

 

These are the responsible gaming tools found across online casinos to help prevent and stop gambling addiction:

  • Self exclusion: the most common tool used in online casinos and a tool that should be present in every casino. This option allows you to close your account for a certain period of time (mostly between 6 or 24 months and up to 5 years ).
  • Cooling off period: it’s essentially the shorter version of self exclusion of 24 hours or a few days (usually 3-7).
  • Deposit limit: limiting the amount of money that you can deposit daily, weekly, or monthly. When you reach the specified deposit limit you won’t be able to deposit more in that period.
  • Time alert: helps you keep track of time by alerting you at certain preset time periods (informing you about your sessions and balance changes).
  • Wager limit: limiting the amount of money that you can wager on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. When you reach the preset wager limit you will not be able to wager anymore.
  • Loss limit: works on the same principle as wager limit but focuses specifically on losses.
  • Reality check: appears as a pop-up window reminding you of your activity (how long you have been playing, and how much have you won/lost and wagered).
  • Session limit: an adaptation of the reality check where you get a reminder of your activity and an automatic log out after a preset activity time.
  • Self-assessment: by taking a short test you get an insight into which areas of your life are currently affected by gambling and receive a recommended list of responsible gaming tools that can help you.
  • Permanent account closure: of course, this should be available by default and most casinos apply it through their email support. It allows you to close your account and terminate all connections and contacts from the casino.
Interesting question
Can a gambler be healed?
There is no magic potion that will heal gambling addiction, but with the help of responsible gaming tools and treatments many problem gamblers have successfully won the battle. There are lots of support groups online where you can read stories of gamblers’ journeys on forums and discussion groups. One such example is Jamie, who is now hosting Ted talks and helps people quit gambling. You can read his whole story here.

UNDERAGE GAMBLING

Underage gambling and minors protection

Gambling may sound fun for minors especially when they are teenagers.  Parents often think it might be too soon to even start thinking about gambling being an issue for their kids, but by the age of 15, most children have gambled at least once. This is why underage gambling plays a big role in responsible gaming. It is important to educate your kids that this is a serious offense which can appear in their criminal record. If you are a parent and you are concerned for a minor in your family, here are a few tools and websites you can use to help:

FamiSafe App

FamiSafe App

Screen time and location tracking app with website filtering/blocking and suspicious photos/text detection across multiple social media.

Android | IOS

ESRB App

ESRB App

Search for a game’s rating information by title, platform, rating or content to decide if it’s safe for yor family.

ESRB website

youthgambling.com

Youth Gambling

International center for youth gambling problems and high-rish behavior. Contact them using online contact form to seek professional help.

Internetmatters parental controls

internetmatters.org

Find step by step guides on how to set up parental controls on some of the most popular devices: mobile, PC, search engines, networks, social media or game consoles.

GAMBLING ADDICTION STATISTICS

Gambling addiction statistics

1 %

adults with severe gambling problems

Approximately 1 percent of adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem

Source: NCRG

23x

higher risk in alcoholics
The likelihood of developing gambling addiction increases 23x for people who abuse alcohol.

> 80 %

yearly gamblers
Over 80 percent of American adults gamble on a yearly basis.

3-5 %

gamblers with a problem

Three to five gamblers out of every hundred struggle with a gambling problem.

750,000

addicted minors
As many as 750,000 young people in US aged 14 to 21 are addicted to gambling.
2.9 %
female gamblers with severe gambling problems

Out of women who reported instances of gambling in US, 2.9 % are found to be problem gamblers

Source: FHE Health

4.2 %

male gamblers with severe gambling problems

Out of men who reported instances of gambling in US, 4.2 % are found to be problem gamblers

Source: FHE Health