The Ultimate Guide to Casinos


Responsible Gaming and Problem Gambling

Playing table games, slots and video poker can be highly enjoyable and entertaining. It is a form of recreation that’s not only exciting but also relatively inexpensive and potentially quite profitable. However, for a small percentage of players, gambling can become a problem, turning into a compulsion that leads to addictive behavior. With this danger in mind, most online casinos today subscribe to a policy of “responsible gaming” that governs how they conduct their business and affects all aspects of operations.

Addressing Problem Gambling

The first commitment to responsible gaming made by online casinos is to ensure that all players are of legal age. In most cases this entails more than ticking a simple box upon registration. It requires providing proof of identity and age, such as a copy of a driver’s license or other form of official identification, such as a passport.

As a second level of commitment, most online gaming sites offer a “Self-Limit Access Program” that allows players to set a cap on their spending by day, week or month. Such a program may also include the ability to opt out from promotional mailings, casino credit services, Players Club privileges and certain games for as long as they desire. Deposit limits may also be self-imposed in order to discourage playing above one’s head.

Responsible gaming links on the casino site, commonly accessible by clicking on the number “18+” in a red circle at the bottom of any page, may offer information on identifying the warning signs of problem gambling. They may provide contact information for receiving free counseling and support, too.

Organizations which assist gaming operators in the process of conforming to legal standards and preventing problem gambling include the Interactive Gaming Council, the American Gaming Association (AGA) with its Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming, the Responsible Gaming Council in Canada and GamCare in the United Kingdom. Reputable casinos will typically have links to such support organizations on the pages of their web sites, providing patrons with easy access to help, if needed.

Identifying the Warning Signs

For most people, gambling is fun. However, for a significant minority, it can develop into an uncontrollable dependency. A variety of psychological, physical, social and vocational problems can result from addictive gambling behavior, leading to anxiety and depression and, in extreme cases, even suicide.

As with any sickness or ailment, identifying the early signs of problem gambling is the best way to prevent its growth. Symptoms of possible addiction range from constantly thinking about gambling to progressively escalating bets, wagering down to the last penny, and finding oneself unable to stop and leave the gaming site. Others signs may be chasing after losses and trying to win them back, wagering on credit, using money meant for other purposes such as paying bills, or lying about gambling to friends and family.

Not unlike alcoholism, addictive gambling can hurt not only the afflicted individual but also all of the people around her/him and society as a whole. Increased domestic violence and crime have been seen as results. That’s why the promotion of responsible gaming by casinos is in everyone’s best interests, and it is up to each player to be aware of the danger of developing a dependency.

Seven Tips for Responsible Gaming

Based upon years of experience in dealing with players and understanding how susceptible some are to addictive behavior, casino operators have come up with a short list of ways to help prevent problem gambling. Consider the following seven pieces of advice as a way to bring a burgeoning disorder under control.

  • Be aware of and track how much money is being spent.
  • Avoid chasing losses; stick to a predetermined budget.
  • Gamble only with money you can afford to lose.
  • Treat gambling as a form of entertainment, not as an income source.
  • Limit and monitor the amount of time spent for each gambling session.
  • Avoid gambling under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Avoid gambling when feeling depressed or to escape other problems.

The acid test of whether gambling behavior is leading someone into trouble is how they answer the question, “Do you think you may have a gambling problem?” A response of “Yes” is a signal to take the next step and seek help, which is readily available online in multiple languages through or Assistance is available 24/7 for anyone who seeks it.