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November’s about to start and that means it is time for the industry initiative Safer Gambling Week. This initiative is intended to make players stop and take time to think about how they interact with gambling. Not just those who have experienced issues with addiction, but everyone.
Gambling is intended to be entertainment in exactly the same way as watching a film, reading a book, going to a theme park or going for coffee. You pay and you receive something that you find pleasurable. But the nature of gambling can lead to misconceptions on this level.
Sometimes, because of luck, rather than ending up paying for your entertainment, you end up walking away with more money. And therein lies the rub. These occasions are part of what makes gambling entertaining. They are the exception and not the rule. It is crucial to remember that in the long run the house wins. If you walk away up today, next time you may not. On average you are likely to end up down, and that’s where you pay for your entertainment.
But human nature can lead us to misunderstand, because of the times we win, and come to expect that as we won before we will again. And that is where problems develop. When you start to forget that gambling is just entertainment and you will pay for it in the long run, the unhealthy attitude can occur wherein you expect to win, and when you don’t you are left unhappy.
To keep your gambling interactions healthy, you should go in with the expectation of losing, and treat winning as a nice bonus if it happens. If you are struggling to do that, it’s probably a good time to take a break.
Always set a limit to what you are comfortable losing and never go past it! If you do go past it there’s a very good chance you will end up regretting it later.
There are some generally positive steps you can take to help ensure that your gambling stays healthy. We can all start out with good intentions and slip-up. You were only going to have one chocolate and now the box is half empty! When we’re indulging we’re programmed in such a way that we can end up going further than we intend or should. But there are tools out there to help you manage your gambling to avoid this type of pitfall.
The first thing to do is ensure that you always set limits. Any well regulated operator today will allow you to place limits on your account. They may include:
Deposit Limits – How much you can deposit over a specific period of time.
Session Limits – How long you can play for.
Loss Limits – How much you can lose. This one’s a little tricky as you need to make sure you understand whether this is measured from where your balance is at the time you put the limit in place or based on your total loss over the period. Many players will put a Loss Limit in place to try and preserve a big win, but losing back a win doesn’t technically mean that you’ve ‘lost’ and this is where the definition of how the Loss Limit works is critical.
This is just a short break, that can often be set-up inside your player account. Generally this is a break of less than 6 months – though there are variations in interpretation from regulatory system to regulatory system – and will only apply to the property you request it at.
This is a longer break – 6 months or more. Self-exclusion can be applied to only the property that you request them at, or they may be extended across every property on the license. Here’s some information on the major licensors:
UKGC – If you request a self-exclusion it will by default apply to every property on the gambling operator’s license. You can request it to only apply to a single property.
MGA – If you request a self-exclusion it will only apply to the property you request it at unless you ask for it to be extended.
Gibraltar Gambling Commission - If you request a self-exclusion it will by default apply to every property on the gambling operator’s license. You can request it to only apply to a single property.
Unlike Time Outs, self-exclusions will generally include a cooling down period at the end (a chance to reflect and consider whether you really want to start gambling again).
It should be noted that under most regulatory systems you cannot lift a self-exclusion once it has been placed. However, under the MGA licensing system a self-exclusion can be lifted on request but only after a 24 hour cooling off period for exclusions of a specific length (like 6 months or 2 years) and a 7 day cooling off period for a “permanent” or “forever” exclusion.
Some countries have started to offer a country wide self-exclusion scheme. If you enrol, you will be excluded with every operator licensed by the national regulator.
There are some facts to consider about these schemes however.
Firstly, they generally operate on the information you give them. If you use different information to register new accounts the restriction is likely to fail.
Secondly, they only restrict play at licensed operators. If you choose to go to unlicensed illegal operators you will have no protections or recourse.
Another tool that is really useful is blocking software. This is an app that that can be installed on your device (laptop, phone, tablet etc) that will prevent your device from accessing gambling websites and apps. While not infallible, Blocking Software offers a great tool that puts the control in your hands.
There are several Blocking Softwares on the market and there are strengths and weaknesses to each. However we would recommend BetBlocker for the following reasons:
BetBlocker isn’t just a self-exclusion tool though. Another unique feature this app offers is its Calendaring service. This allows you to set when you want the restriction to switch on and off. So if you know that there are certain days that you may be more vulnerable to over playing, you can schedule the block to come on at the necessary times.
Regardless of which Blocking Software you choose, these apps make great additions to any National Self-Exclusion scheme. The National Self-Exclusion scheme will ensure that operators take responsibility for stopping you playing, while the Blocking Software provides a tool that helps to restrict the black market operators. Blocking Software and National Self-Exclusion schemes are symbiotic, offering far better protection together than either do by themselves.
If you feel your gambling has become problematic you should consider reaching out for help. Many people are experiencing the same issues as you. You are not alone and there are many organisations that can provide a variety of services to help you cope. You can find a lot of information on this topic on our Responsible Gambling page.
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