Responsible Gaming

Responsible Gaming is a term you’ll see used across all online casinos, sports betting apps, and poker sites in the US. It is also a common sight in brick-and-mortar gambling locations.

Most specifically, Responsible Gaming is an initiative to reduce problem gambling. Often, it’s a coordinated effort between the state regulators and all gambling outlets, including both online and in-person casinos and sportsbooks.

But, generally speaking, Responsible Gaming is a simple phrase used to denote a wide range of ways to avoid problem gambling. This includes both budgeting strategies as well as cultivating a safe mindset around risking money.

How Can You Practice Responsible Gaming?

At the end of the day, responsible gambling comes down to the individual. Even if you’re banned from the casinos and excluded from online gambling sites, it’s still possible to find ways to gamble. 

Given this reality, it’s up to each of us to practice Responsible Gaming. And it can be a lot more nuanced than “drinking responsibly” and other similar rules of thumb.

To practice Responsible Gaming, you’ll want to:

  • Assume that you’ll lose. Think of gambling as purchasing admission to an entertainment outlet. If you win, great. But the odds of every casino game is set in the house’s favor, and even the best sports bettors of all time still averaged around 54% betting accuracy.
  • Set a strict budget, and do not gamble more than that. Leave debit and credit cards at home, and only go to the casino or sportsbook with the cash you’re planning to spend. 
  • Limit your time. Whether online or in a casino, determine how long you’re planning on staying and stop when the time is up. The longer you play at a casino, the more likely you are to lose. If you keep playing, you’re mathematically guaranteed to lose it all.
  • Do not gamble as a coping mechanism. If you’re sad, angry, lonely, or even bored, avoid gambling. Gambling to ease emotional distress is a fast track to addiction, just like with drugs, sex, and alcohol.
  • Keep records of your gambling. Each time you play, record how much you started with and how much you ended with. Calculate your year total to stay aware of how much you’re really spending on gambling.
  • Never gamble while drunk, as it can lead to poor strategy, over-betting, and other issues.
  • Make gambling an occasional treat. The more often you gamble, the further you are from Responsible Gaming. If you find yourself gambling instead of other hobbies and interests (or spending time with loved ones), that’s a major red flag.

These are the best practice methods to ensure you don’t fall into the life-ruining trap of gambling addiction. But you also have some extremely effective resources at your disposal thanks to governmental and corporate Responsible Gaming initiatives.

How Organizations Help The Responsible Gaming Initiative

In all US states with legal gambling, regulators and operators have safety precautions in place that help facilitate more Responsible Gambling. 

However, these cannot be wholly relied upon for player safety. These organizations don’t have access to your financial records, after all. So they won’t know if you’re gambling too much, at least not initially.

But both gambling providers and government bodies have resources in place that can greatly limit problem gambling. These include:

  • Offering quick and simple links to information and helplines to all players.
  • Employing internal controls to help identify and investigate any potential problem gambling. For example, staying at a blackjack table for several hours or an unusual deposit frequency at an online sportsbook. 
  • Create safety measures to cut off over-consumption of alcohol or remove an intoxicated player from the table or premises.
  • Institute strict age limitations and checks to ensure no one under the legal gambling age is permitted.

In some states, there are restrictions when it comes to advertising gambling products, particularly around those who might be most vulnerable to problem gambling.

Setting Limits On Online Gambling Sites And Apps

On all gambling sites and apps that are truly committed to the responsible gaming initiative, you’ll have the option to limit your deposit amount and frequency. You should also have a wide range of other safety measures in place. 

Visit the “Responsible Gaming” page on the specific casino or sportsbook, or reach out to their customer service. If they don’t have that option, consider playing elsewhere.

What Is Self-Exclusion?

Self-exclusion empowers players to block themselves from gambling. This means you voluntarily put your name on a list that gets you rejected from entering a casino or sportsbook, or from joining an online gambling site or app.

Self-exclusion is an option in all US states with any form of legal casino and sportsbook gambling. In states with legal online gambling, self-exclusion can apply to both online and in-person gambling.

Further, self-exclusion can usually extend to all gambling properties, not just one specific outlet. For example, if you’re in New Jersey, you can self-exclude from all Atlantic City casinos, all of the state’s sportsbooks, and all the gambling sites and apps.

What Are The Self-Exclusion Options?

Self-exclusion can be temporary or permanent. You can ban yourself for any amount of time from a month to a year or more. You can also request a permanent ban to restrict yourself from all forms of gambling within your state for all time.

Self-exclusion is specifically voluntary. It is totally different from being banned from a casino for cheating or other offenses. Your name will not appear on any public list like it is if you are, for example, a habitual card counter.

Resources To Help You Along The Way

One of the number one ways to avoid problem gambling is to reach out for help if you think you might have a problem. There are tons of resources available, including options for totally anonymous help.

Here are a list of national resources as you navigate the waters of Responsible Gaming:

  • Gamblers Anonymous, probably the best-known organization for name recognition alone. This is a great place to receive support from other anonymous folks dealing with gambling addiction. Locate a meeting near you or talk to someone online with one click.
  • National Council on Problem Gambling, which includes a toll-free helpline that’s available 24/7, is completely anonymous, and total confidential. If you’re unsure whether you have a problem, call them right now at 1-800-522-4700.
  • International Center for Responsible Gaming, which helps folks around the world who are dealing with online gambling addiction. This is an especially useful resource for those who resort to illegal, offshore gambling sites to circumvent local laws.

The list of resources goes on, but those are the three most respected, effective, and accessible. All states with legal gambling have resources of their own as well. 

Struggling With Gambling Addiction?

If you’re struggling with gambling addiction, it’s imperative that you get help right away. The consequences of gambling addiction compounds every day that you wait. Getting started is as easy as calling the National Council on Problem Gambling at 1-800-522-4700.

If you’re worried about developing a gambling addiction and don’t think the strategies we’ve listed above will help, avoid gambling altogether. 

In fact, developing a side hustle is a guaranteed way to earn extra money. Gambling is a near-guaranteed way to lose money, as all casino games are in the house’s favor. Even perfect strategy blackjack favors the house by about 1%. Eventually, that means the casino gets the whole bankroll.

Responsible Gambling In Summary

Responsible gambling is easy for some and impossible for others. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know where we fall until it’s too late. Fortunately, you’re already ahead of the curve by reading this overview of responsible gambling.

Follow the safety strategies, stick to best practices, and consider every form of gambling a fun way to entertain yourself every once in a while. 

From everyone here at Bonus.com, good luck, have fun, and stay safe.

About the Author

Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani is the Editor and Content Manager of Bonus.com. As a highly experienced online gambling writer, Mike specializes in online casinos and sports betting; specifically, how to bet more while spending less. Ready to keep more of your money while staying safe and having fun? You're in the right place.