A seasoned veteran with years of igaming experience. A local to New Zealand land based casinos, Frank will teach you the ins and outs of all things online casino, diving deep into the subjects of casino bonus, freepins, online pokies and $1 NZ deposit bonus.
Player Protection and Safety in Online Casinos
Over half the global population indulges in gambling at some point. The practice is even more prominent now, with easier accessibility to games and casinos thanks to the internet. The activity is nothing more than a source of thrill, pleasure, and money for most people. While these reasons are valid for anyone indulging within reasonable limits, gambling has the potential to turn from a harmless fun diversion to compulsive behaviour. At this point, it matures into a gambling addiction.
Online gambling may have numerous advantages, but it also contributes to gambling addiction faster than ever in history. Accordingly, responsible gambling has become a crucial factor to consider when playing in any online casino.
Player Protection Measures in Online Casinos
With problem gambling on the rise, most jurisdictions with regulated gambling are taking measures to protect players. The United Kingdom is considered the world leader in the field, with stringent laws in place to be followed by casino operators, game studios, and other licensees. Other licensing institutions following the same path as the UKGC include the MGA, AGCC, and HM Government of Gibraltar. While reputable licensing bodies often impose player protection laws, some casinos contribute to player protection of their own accord. Playing in licensed gambling dens is recommended since their player protection obligations are legally bound. Here is a breakdown of the requirements they are expected to follow and implement:
Casinos provide several measures to protect players struggling with problem gambling, but one must identify the existence of an issue to implement them. Most gambling sites have a ‘Responsible Gambling’ section where punters can take a self-assessment test, also known as the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). The test includes several questions that are a reliable measure of risk behaviour linked to gambling addiction. Usually, the questions address tendencies displayed within the last 12 months and can be like so:
- Have you staked more than you could afford to lose?
- Do you feel the need to place larger stakes to get the same excitement as before?
- Do you feel the need to come back another day to try and win back previous losses?
- Have you borrowed money to gamble?
- Have you sold any property to get money to gamble?
- Have you stolen to get money to gamble?
- Do you feel irritable and restless when you do not gamble?
- Have you tried reducing or kicking the gambling habit with no success?
- Has gambling caused any financial stress to you or your household?
- Do your gambling habits often result in guilt, anxiety, depression, or stress?
- Have you lost interest in hobbies because of gambling?
Some gaming sites provide simple yes/no options for these questions, while others offer multiple choices – Not at all/ Rarely/ Sometimes/ Often. The assessment results allow one to make informed decisions on the next steps.
Age Restriction and Verification
The risks of underage gambling are often underestimated and misunderstood. Kids exposed to gambling run a higher risk of crippling gambling addiction later in life. Since the human brain doesn’t fully develop until after the formative teenage years, children are less likely to make measured, logical decisions that shield them from impulsive gambling thrills.
For this reason, player protection laws limit online casino access to people over the legal gambling age of eighteen. In some jurisdictions, the limit can be as high as 21 years. At this point, the average gambler is likely to have coping mechanisms for challenges in life that do not rely on the easy gratification of low-effort, high-endorphin activities like gambling.
Online casinos require players to provide their date of birth during registration to filter out underage gamblers. Gambling dens verify the information by requesting a copy of documents like:
- Government-issued ID
- Driver’s license
- Utility bills
- Credit/debit card
In recent years, most casinos have added a ‘Reality Check’ feature for real money gamblers. The feature lets punters track how long they spend in online casinos. Since most casino games are fast-paced and require low effort, it is easy to lose track of time spent gambling. Once a set time elapses, players get a reminder, after which they can choose to log off or not. Reality checks can also be prompted by spending a certain amount of money. The casino can have standard time, money checks, or gamblers can set them.
Considering how gambling has the potential to spiral into addiction, players should know their limits. Most casinos are obligated to offer settings that allow punters to play within safe limits. There are different types of limits provided in online casinos, including:
- Deposit limit – this setting limits the amount that can be deposited into an account per day, week, or month. Once the limit is reached, players cannot cash in anymore until the set period elapses.
- Session limit – this setting limits time spent gambling daily, weekly, or monthly. When time runs out, the account automatically logs off, and players cannot log back in until the period ends.
- Loss limit – this setting limits the amount of money lost in a day, week, or month. In most cases, the restriction applies to the net losses accrued when playing using deposits. Accordingly, any losses encountered when playing using winnings do not activate the feature.
In some casinos, these restrictions can be set in the ‘Responsible Gambling’ section; in others, one needs to contact the customer support team. Usually, the limits can be changed, but not instantly. Most casinos have at least a 24-hour waiting period to save punters from making rush decisions that can be detrimental.
Self-exclusion is a more extreme measure than limit settings geared towards anyone concerned that their gambling habits are ballooning into a problem. The self-imposed period is meant for punters to cool off without accessing gambling of any kind. During this period, the casino account is frozen and has a set time-limited lock that can be days, weeks, months, or even years. Self-exclusion can also be used to apply a permanent ban from a website. In this case, it is advisable to withdraw any available funds since logging back in is impossible. This option often requires contacting the client care team.
Professional Gambling Addiction Help
Reputable casinos usually partner with organisations that help gamblers dealing with addiction. These bodies work with mental health specialists focusing on problem gambling and can be contacted through phone, email, or live chat. The most popular of them include GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous, and BeGambleAware. These organisations typically provide players with a recovery toolkit with information and support to kick the habit like:
- Blocking software – extensions that block gambling websites, accounts, and casino marketing messages
- Self-exclusion – helps players determine how long they should excuse themselves from gambling or whether to drop the habit permanently
- Money management – offers tools to deal with debt and other financial challenges caused by gambling
- Workbooks and self-guided resources – these exercises help change one’s unhealthy relationship with gambling.
- Gambling addiction courses – these programs provide regular check-ins with medical professionals and can usually be completed at the player’s pace.
Depending on the addiction severity, you can check yourself into a physical recovery institution if online remedies prove ineffective.
Online casinos can only do so much to help players prevent and deal with gambling addiction. The main task lies with punters to protect themselves from the vice. If the activity has transformed from a fun distraction to an unhealthy obsession, consider these tips to help with the struggle:
Accepts the Problem’s Existence
Compulsive gambling is a hidden sickness with no physical tell-tales and can go unnoticed, especially since overdoses are impossible, like in the case of drug and alcohol addiction. The habit persists as long as it is sustained. Instead of minimising or denying the issue with comparison or glorification, take steps to determine whether the indulgence is a problem. The most common symptom to be on guard for is a lack of impulse control; whether flush or broke, you find a way to bet. Once you own up to the issue, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
While you can always lock an account in one casino, you can always open an account in other. Kicking the habit requires taking measures to avoid walking the addiction road again. Start by changing the daily habits that inspire the practice. For instance, consider dropping any social relationships with people that promote the behaviour.
Establish a Healthy Network
Fighting gambling addiction is a tough battle to accomplish on your own without encouragement along the way. While recovery organisations support your journey, reaching out to loved ones who understand your struggle and can help is important. If your options are limited, forge new relationships with interests outside of gambling.
Find New Hobbies or Rekindle Old Ones
Sobriety can be boring since gambling keeps the brain constantly awash with dopamine. Avoid relapsing by finding other ways to excite your mind. Rekindle old hobbies you lost touch with when gambling or rediscover new ones that challenge and stimulate you in new ways.
Consider the Consequences
Feeling guilt and shame during recovery is expected, but it can result in relapse if the feelings are intense. Therefore, it is essential to remember the consequences of veering off the recovery path. Gambling addiction usually causes emotional and financial strain on the self and loved ones, and remembering so is likely to keep you disciplined in kicking the habit.
Cope With Stress Healthily
Most gambling addicts use online casinos and games to escape real-world problems like anxiety, guilt, and depression. As a recovering addict, find other ways to cope with the issues, like exercise, meditation, and yoga. The better you handle life problems, the less likely you are to turn to gambling.