The idea of protecting casino players is nothing new.
Although in the past there was a certain degree of monotony and boredom attached to the very concept of gambling responsibly, nowadays responsible gambling, responsible gaming and similar, are terms which are finally finding more and more substance, for the better.
But what does ‘responsible gambling’ really mean, who does it apply to and where is it necessary and relevant?
Responsible Gambling as a policy idea represents the communal efforts made by businesses, lawmakers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to bring gambling addiction under control, to prevent underage gambling, and to ensure that players are indeed the owners of the funds they wager and gamble with.
Today, more than at any point in the history of casinos, responsible gambling is taken very seriously by both regulators and casino operators.
Responsible Gambling and What It Stands For
Gambling stakeholders are today held to the highest standards of morality and fairness issued by a central regulatory body, such as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), and any national and regional watchdog.
The idea is to focus on several areas that in turn guarantee the sanctity and responsibility of the industry. The key tenets include:
- Customer protection from falling victim to erratic and ruinous gambling behavior;
- Stopping underage gambling by ordering identity checks and restricting access;
- Self-exclusion schemes that are developed nationally to prevent addictive gamers from participating;
- AML and KYC practices to establish the source of wealth and rule out a criminal link;
- Secure online gaming environment where payments can be carried out safely;
- Ethical and responsible marketing so as not to mislead customers
A multi-layer phenomenon, regulators have been increasing their level of scrutiny into individual businesses and casinos online and on land; but what stands behind each aspect of this experience?
Protecting Customers from Developing Gambling Addiction
Casinos are increasingly held responsible for failing to spot erratic gambling behavior and the online casino world is no different. Most commonly, this involves players who win big and immediately stake the amount they have won, often ending up losing it altogether.
Other indications of gambling addiction and irresponsible gambling practices include instances of players systematically spending high amounts of money which must trigger additional checks and wealth assessments to establish whether the player can afford to play with specific sums that raise suspicion.
Fighting Underage Gambling
Underage gambling is a particularly sensitive issue and for all it’s worth, it has generally been successfully kept in check. The instances of adolescent players even gaining access to a casino in the USA and the wider world have thankfully been few.
Regulators have even expanded their remit to include ‘skins’ and ‘loot boxes,’ which are more commonly associated with video games, but jurisdictions such as Australia and the United States have qualified them as risks to underage gambling.
National Self-Exclusion Scheme
With the United States only now beginning to fully legalize the online gambling industry, self-exclusion is a hot topic. In places like the United Kingdom, this has been already a well-established practice, to name the national initiative GamStop.
There have been issues with GameStop, as a recent BBC investigation has shown that people can play the system, but self-exclusion has been largely helpful, allowing vulnerable people to exclude themselves for a year, five years or even a lifetime. The exclusion online extends to land-based casinos, although its total enforcement has been a challenge.
Ethical and Responsible Marketing of Gambling Establishments
Advertising responsibly has become a hot topic. Regulators that monitor advertisements and those that take care of gambling licensing have joined forces to ensure that the marketing used by operators is ethical.
Sportsbook in the United Kingdom, for example, have opted for a voluntary water-shed ban, choosing not to display gambling content in specific time-frames in order to protect young gamers from harm.
There has been some criticism that sportsbooks have been using the retreat from TV to bolster their advertising on the Internet, but with regulators quickly catching up, responsible gambling is generally being responsibly upheld on the Internet
Know Your Casino Customers Sooner Rather than Later
So far, many casinos have allowed players to experience the free-play version of products prior to signing up for the casino in question. This is about to change with these free play options becoming inaccessible to non-registered users.
Furthermore, in the UK, it has been decided that each new account holder will have to verify their identity within 72 hours so that casinos can ensure that:
- The player is of the legal age
- His funds are of legal origin
- The player is not an addict
The latest regulatory actions have really been a push in the right direction giving more substance to the entire concept of Responsible Gambling. If until 2016 there had been some ‘wiggle room’ for companies to avoid tougher actions against them, in 2019 there are fast becoming fewer opportunities for misinterpreting what responsible gambling really means.
The Organizations That Help with Problem Gambling
Responsible gambling is a broad concept to which many parties subscribe themselves. This includes NGOs that are actively seeking to assist people who may be showing negative symptoms associated to gambling.
As a result, there are dozens of trustworthy and reliable helplines and organizations quite ready to help, including:
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Gambling Therapy
A national self-exclusion scheme is not an option yet in the USA, but as states pool efforts, they will continually seek to introduce more universal solutions.
Gambling Responsibly by Yourself
While it remains solely in the mandate of regulators and operators to introduce ethical and responsible gambling practices, you can also take steps to ensure that you are playing safely and securely online or in a casino.
You can benefit from licensed operator’s listed helplines or introduce limits to your weekly and monthly gambling habits, which should be easily accessible via your account settings menu.
Ultimately, you also have to keep an eye on your habits and try to limit the reckless behavior. It’s not necessarily easy to identify yourself with the condition, but as regulator have given more meaning to the concept of responsible gambling today, finding help has become very simple.