Aircraft seatbelt signs illuminate to warn us when there is potential turbulence ahead. Learn about the problem gambling warning signs to look for, and the options available when you see one.
What is Responsible Gambling?
Responsible Gambling is a suite of policies applied by online casinos to keep players safe. Like motorcycle helmets, some policies form part of legislation – laws the casinos must follow to protect players.
Others fall under consumer protection guidelines and in many cases are industry-driven. The fundamental priority of Responsible Gambling is minimizing the risks to players who may be vulnerable.
Why is it so important to play responsibly?
Playing responsibly ensures you don’t overspend or spend too much time gambling. The risks of not playing responsibly can have dire consequence on every aspect of a person’s life and their family.
Do you have a potential gambling addiction?
To be precise, addiction is a dependency – physical, psychological or both – that becomes a need. Most pastimes present symptoms (warning signs) well before addiction takes hold.
While governments and online casino operators continually try to improve player safety, players should always evaluate their gaming habits and be aware of their individual limits. Some key problem gambling warning signs to look out for include;
- Do you feel guilty about the amount of money you spend gambling?
- Do you need to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling of excitement?
- Do you find it difficult to stop gambling after a loss?
- Does your gambling cause any financial problems for you or your household?
- Does gambling negatively affect your personal relationships, your job or studies?
- Does your gambling cause you any health problems, including stress or anxiety?
- Do you become restless if you are not gambling?
- Do you feel that you might have a gambling problem?
Helping Someone with a Gambling Addiction
Whether you recognize any of the situations noted above in your online gambling experiences or see them in someone you know, additional signs of a potential gambling problem that others may display could include;
- Money missing from the bank or wallet
- Household items and valuables missing
- Shortage of money, despite having a stable salary
- Having several loans at once
- Unpaid Bills
- Regularly borrowing money
- Secretive about financial records
- Lack of food at home
Mood and Behavioural signs:
- Performance at work is affected
- Changes in personality
- Becoming withdrawn from loved ones
- Manipulative behaviour
- Being agitated, upset and worried for no particular reason
- Using threats and lies to manipulate others
- Feelings of hopelessness, frustration and depression
- Spending longer hours gambling
- Taking a lot of time to complete simple tasks
- Secrecy and unexplained absence
- Always arriving late for appointments
- Taking a lot of days off from work in order to gamble
Legal age for gambling and Protecting Minors
Like Canada’s legal drinking age(s), the minimum age to gamble online in Canada mirrors provincial laws. Expect to see a minimum age of nineteen, except in those few provinces where eighteen is the legal age for alcohol consumption, as it is for online gambling.
Licensed online casinos operate with strict age verification policies to protect minors and prevent them from accessing sites, or risk heavy fines and license revocation. Subject to the province of residence, if players are of legal age to drink, they’re of legal age to gamble online.
Responsible Gambling Tools
Online casinos provide a wide array of Responsible Gaming tools to assist players with making sound decisions about their gaming practices. Easily accessible while setting up an account or at any time after becoming a member, these tools help players establish their priorities and limits for gameplay.
Have a budget in mind you don’t want to exceed? A Deposit Limit is a perfect way to stick to your goals. Preset the amount of money you can deposit in a specific period; daily, weekly or monthly. Once your fixed limit is used, you cannot deposit again until the next time period you have chosen begins.
Like the Deposit Limit, the Loss Limit tool uses a specific time period players choose in advance but prevents additional wagers after a preset maximum amount is lost. Planning the amount you are prepared to lose in advance goes a long way in alleviating worry about larger than expected losses. Win as much as you can. Lose only what you can comfortably afford to.
While players can impose limits on deposits and losses, they can also restrict the amount of time spent gambling online. Monitoring the time spent playing helps players manage the potential hazards of extended online gambling periods. To keep control of this, players preselect a maximum time period in which to play. When it expires, the gambling session is closed and players are logged out from the site.
The Time Alert tool is a perfect feature to use as an option to – or better yet in coordination with – the Session Limit tool. A notification occasionally reminds players about the length of time spent on the given gaming session. Current balance and other account information are included with the notification so players can make informed decisions about whether to continue playing and if so, for how long.
Sometimes the best choice is to walk away and take a break. Players can choose a specific period to suspend their accounts and voluntarily block access for a given amount of time. Once the calendar date selected is reached, the player account will become fully functional again.
Not to be confused with the Deposit Limit, the Wagering Limit restricts the amount you can bet, irrespective of the funds available in your account. Whether daily, weekly or monthly, the Wagering Limit tool is an effective method for controlling the size and frequency of your bets.
Like an up-to-date credit card or chequing account statement available to review in real-time, the Transaction History tool summarises players’ historical information on deposits, withdrawals, wagers, results, and pending bets.
The Transaction History tool provides players with an instant snapshot of their situation, clearly illustrating their online gambling habits and informing their decision-making.
When a Time Out isn’t enough. The Self-Exclusion tool is used by players to voluntarily suspend an account for a significant amount of time – usually a six-month minimum. During this period, accounts are locked and frozen for the proscribed timeframe while players take the personal time to evaluate their individual situations.
Most online casinos advise that if a player is considering this option, he or she should consider removing themselves from all online gambling platforms simultaneously and many offer problem gambling support service information on their Responsible Gambling webpages.
The Self-Assessment tool is an excellent opportunity for players to get an objective assessment of their individual gambling profiles. Usually presented in the format of a short lifestyle quiz, players answer general questions and comment on gambling-related statements.
Players can then review their profiles to better understand if and how their lives may be affected by their online gambling activity. In the cases where negative impacts are identified, the Self-Assessment tool summary will include guidance about which tools are available to help players reduce those negative impacts.
Organizations that can help and provide counselling
If gambling has become a problem for you or someone you know, several organizations in Canada offer professional help. This may include counselling on addiction, financial distress, and/or spousal and family support guidance. Wherever you are, rest assured that you are not alone. Reach out to one of the following organizations;
Responsible Gambling Council (RGC)
The RGC is a national non-profit organization with a local footprint that provides support, counselling and prevention strategies to individuals and their families. The RGC is dedicated to making gambling safe and is a leader in advancing responsible gambling standards to government and industry. To find a local counsellor and related services in your area, follow this link;
website – www.responsiblegambling.org
phone – +1 (416) 499-9800
Canada Safety Council
Known widely across Canada for developing and legislating product safety standards, the Canada Safety Council considers problem gambling as an issue that impacts individual, family and community safety. As such, the CSC provides help and guidance to Canadians dealing with the effects of problem gambling and/or gambling addiction. The CSC programs for problem gambling form part of the overall community safety project which is designed to help communities live safer lifestyles. The Canada Safety Council provides a tremendous array of expertise to those in need, starting with the listing of provincial Toll-Free problem gambling hotlines which are confidential and open twenty-four hours a day:
Website – www.canadasafetycouncil.org
Phone – 1-613-739-1535
Gambling Addiction Help Worldwide
Canada – ProblemGambling – 1-866-531-2600
US & CANADA – National Helpline (National Council on Problem Gambling): 1-800-522-4700
USA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Argentina – Juego Responsable – 0800-333-0333, WhatsApp 011-1524416058
België – VAD – 02 423 03 33
Brasil – Jogadores Anônimos – (11) 3229-1023
Chile – Psicólogos Ludopatía Chile – 9 222 3860
Deutschland – Spielen mit Verantwortung: Glücksspielsucht – 0800-1 37 27 00
España – FEJAR – 900 200 225
France – IFAC – + 33 (0)2 40 84 76 20
Italia – TVNGA – 800 55 88 22
Nederland – AGOG – 0900-2177721 (€ 0.10 per minute)
Norge – Hjelpelinjen – 800 800 40
Österreich – Spielsuchthilfe – (1) 544 13 57
Portugal – Jogo Responsável – 213 950 911 (SICAD – Serviço de Intervenção nos Comportamentos Aditivos e nas Dependências)
Schweiz – Sucht Schweiz – 021 321 29 11
Sverige – Stödlinjen – 020-819 100 (09:00 to 21:00)