Responsible Gambling: How to Gamble Responsibly

Responsible gambling is the most important skill which all players need to know. That’s why the team is committed to ensuring you have the tools to gamble safely online. Gambling can be an entertaining hobby, but irrational decisions can lead to real-life problems.

This guide will help you avoid developing bad habits by teaching you how to gamble responsibly. We’ll discuss the habits of responsible players and how to adopt them, teach you the signs of problem gambling, and walk you through the resources available if you, or someone you know, may need help.

What Is Responsible Gambling?

Responsible gambling means adhering to a set of good habits which make playing safer and reduces the chances of developing gambling problems or even an addiction. Responsible players understand that gambling is a form of entertainment. They stick to a budget of money that they can comfortably afford to lose without the expectation of winning anything back. They also understand the financial risks associated with gambling and make conscious decisions to minimize them.

Many of these decisions revolve around how and when to play. For example, staying calm, sober, and mindful of the time passing can help you stay rational when gambling. Making an effort to develop these good habits will serve you well in the long term.

When players do not control their gambling, it can become problematic. Players may struggle to stop, overspend their budget, or begin to neglect other aspects of their lives. In extreme situations, problem gambling can develop into addiction (commonly known as compulsive gambling). Both can have detrimental effects on the player’s finances, relationships, and physical/mental health.

To reduce the risk of having issues, we encourage all players to be aware of the early signs of problem gambling. Adopting tips and techniques to help you stay in control of your play will also help maintain a healthy relationship with gambling.

How to Gamble Responsibly: Responsible Gambling Tips

Whether you’re a gambling rookie or a seasoned pro, learning how to gamble responsibly should be a top priority. Following these tips can help keep gambling fun for everyone.

Play with Money You Can Afford to Lose

Like most hobbies, you should see gambling as a form of leisure. Just like buying a ticket to the big game or investing in a new fishing pole, the money you gamble should be treated as an expense. Only ever bet with disposable income, which you can comfortably afford to lose.

Set a Gambling Budget

Think carefully about your income and decide how much you’d like to allocate to gambling. Keep track of your profit and loss through each session, and stop playing when your bankroll runs out. The media often glamorizes the idea of going ‘all in’ on gambling and risking your full bankroll, but the reality is that this high-risk strategy has ruined many lives. Managing your bankroll is an invaluable skill, so we recommend finding the best strategy for you and your budget. We have dedicated guides to developing sound casino bankroll management and sports betting bankroll management.

Don’t Gamble When Stressed or Upset

Pay close attention to how you feel when gambling. Monitoring your mental state is important because playing when feeling strong emotions (whether positive or negative) can affect the rationality of your gameplay. Only play when you feel calm and level-headed; one easy way would be to stop for a while when you start losing it.

Take Regular Breaks

It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re having fun, but taking regular breaks away from each gambling session is important. Breaks will help ease the pressure, clear your mind, and allow you to check in and evaluate your feelings.

Don’t Gamble Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

It’s no secret that using drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions and impair judgment. Never gamble under the influence.

Adjust Your Expectations to the Odds

Each casino game has a built-in house edge which gives the casino an advantage in the long term. Similarly, in poker, the casino’s built-in advantage is the rake which ensures the cardroom receives a commission no matter who wins. In sports betting, all bets have a built-in vigorish (also called margin) to guarantee the sportsbooks will make money regardless of the outcome. For this reason, gambling should never be seen as a reliable money maker.

Don’t Underestimate “Happy Tilts”

While we’ve already covered the negative effects of playing when upset or angry, people often overlook the effects of playing when riding high. A few big wins can give you a false sense of confidence that you are on a ‘lucky streak,’ which can also lead to irrational decisions. Again, the key is to stay calm when gambling.

Accept That Losses Will Happen

Even the greatest gamblers in the world lose sometimes. In a way, long-term gambling is similar to boxing: you will get hit, sometimes pretty hard. To stay in the game, you must learn to roll with the punches and respond accordingly. In gambling, this means accepting that when you lose money, it is gone. Playing on and attempting to recoup your losses is not a sensible way to gamble and can lead to serious financial problems.

Stop and Seek Help

Many people ignore the early signs of problem gambling and underestimate the developing issue. However, further down the road, this often leads to major problems and even addiction. The vast majority of gambling sites and commissions offer the option to self-exclude, meaning you can request to be barred from gambling.

While this is an extreme action, it can offer peace of mind if you have any doubts about your gambling habits. There are other ways to tackle the problem, and we address them later in this guide.

Before we get there, let’s focus on the signs of problem gambling.

Signs of Problem Gambling

Many online gambling resources offer tools to help you determine how healthy your relationship with gambling is. The test by GambleAware is eight questions long and will only take two minutes to complete. Beyond regularly taking these quizzes, knowing the signs of problem gambling is useful.

  • Inability to Stop Gambling: Being unable to control the impulsive urge to gamble is the most common symptom of problem gambling. As well as engaging in long sessions and struggling to know when to stop, players may find that they are constantly looking for new opportunities to gamble.
  • Experiencing the Need to Increase the Stakes to Have Fun: Low-stakes gambling might not bring the same thrill as it once did. In response, players might feel the need to increase their stake size in order to feel the same high.
  • Gambling Affecting Other Areas of Your Life: Loss of interest in work, relationships, and other hobbies is a bad sign. Gambling should never get in the way of life's other responsibilities.
  • Losing Too Much Money: Overspending your bankroll budget, chasing losses, or playing with indisposable money can cause serious financial issues. Making irrational financial decisions that can have real-life consequences is often indicative of a gambling problem.
  • Lying About Gambling: People suffering from problem gambling will often lie to cover up the time and money they spend playing. This may also involve being in denial that the problem exists.
  • Selling Assets/Possessions to Fund Your Gambling: Selling or stealing to fund further bets is tied to the loss of control which accompanies a gambling problem.
  • Experiencing Anxiety, Depression, or/and Other Health Issues: As well as the anxiety, irrational behavior, and other mental health issues that come with problem gambling and the subsequent repercussions, sufferers may also feel physical symptoms. These may include headaches, stomach aches, breakouts, and other stress-related symptoms.
  • Feeling Remorse for Gambling: Remorse is a way for your brain to signal that something is wrong. If you feel remorseful about gambling, you should not ignore the feeling.

If one or more of these signs resonates with you, it is time to seek help. There are a number of free resources available to US players and gamblers from other regions to help gain control over your gambling.

Getting Help for Problem Gambling

Seeking help for problem gambling can provide invaluable guidance and help explore the best treatment options. Remember, you do not have to tackle problem gambling alone. There are many people, organizations, and resources ready to support you.

In the first instance, accepting that there is an issue and talking about it with loved ones can alleviate the pressure and anxiety surrounding the issue. Some players may find self-excluding from gambling sites to be helpful in preventing them from playing.

It’s also worth researching if there are local support groups that offer in-person assistance and accountability. Many of them offer complete confidentiality. Moreover, seeking professional help from qualified therapists is one of the biggest steps in moving towards a healthier and more sustainable relationship with gambling.

You’ll find a list of free resources below. These organizations, hotlines, and support groups can help you choose the best course of action and provide a community of people facing similar challenges.

Problem Gambling Resources

Below you’ll find a list of resources available to players from all over the globe, plus a few specifically for US residents. All are completely free to use, and many are available around the clock. The vast majority are also completely confidential.

Gambling Support Groups:

Gamblers Anonymous:

Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship in which those who wish to stop gambling can meet in person, virtually, or by telephone. Meetings run all across the US on various days of the week.

Gambling Therapy:

Gambling Therapy support groups accept gamblers as well as their family and friends. All meetings happen online. Additionally, Gambling Therapy operates a live-chat text service that can connect you to an experienced advisor privately.

Gamtalk Live Chat:

Gamtalk has a group support chat room available 24 hours a day. You will need to register and log in to your account to access the chat.

Organizations for Treatment of Gambling Addiction

NCPG State Resources

Many states have facilities dedicated to the treatment of gambling addiction. You can find a list of facilities where you live on the NCPG website.

Gambling Hotlines

National Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-GAMBLER

Operated by The National Council on Problem Gambling, the helpline supports those in all 50 states as well as US territories. It is available 24/7, completely confidential, and can also be used as a text/chat service.

Gamblers Anonymous Local Hotlines

Gamblers Anonymous operate local hotlines in a number of US states. To find the right number for your location, look here.

Self-Exclusion Options

Self-exclusion is an excellent option for those looking to take a break from gambling. By self-excluding, you are voluntarily barring yourself from casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms. Exclusion programs are run on a state-by-state basis. You can often sign up online via your state’s gambling commission page or else through the dedicated problem gambling resources where you live.

For sites that operate outside of the USA, contact customer support to self-exclude. You can also contact bodies that regulate casinos (such as the Curaçao eGaming Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority) to self-exclude from all the sites licensed by them.

Responsible Gambling FAQ

Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.