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What is responsible gambling?

Gambling is a form of entertainment which you pay for. This means that you are handing over money for something which should be fun, and which will last for a limited amount of time – a little like buying a cinema ticket.

The difference between gambling and any other form of entertainment is that you are playing games of chance for money. Now this could mean that you walk away with more money than you started with, or some other kind of prize – great!

However, this is your goal from the beginning, you will likely be disappointed time and again. If you were assured of a prize every time, you wouldn’t be gambling, you’d simply be purchasing a product or service. Chance is what makes gambling fun, but it is also what makes it a risk.

When we talk about responsible gambling, we’re talking about being able to gamble without putting yourself or others at risk. This boils down to understanding what the risks are, with any form of gambling, and being able to make an informed choice about whether you participate. If you choose to gamble, you need to know how much you can afford to lose.

Gambling responsibly is about treating the experience as a fun activity or a social event, not as an investment or a way to make money – gambling is not the answer to financial problems, and is not a cure-all if you are feeling low, stressed or frustrated. In fact, if you feel this way when you start to gamble it will more than likely make you feel worse!

Make sure you understand the odds of the game you are playing, and what the rules are, otherwise any choice you make is not informed. Accept that losing is just as much a part of gambling as winning and it is your decision whether or not to gamble, whether you win or lose.

Know your limits, and stick to them. That may sound easy, but some people lose sight of this. If you know how much money, and how much time, you have to spend – and you let other people know this too – it can help you to walk away more easily. Taking regular breaks while gambling can help as well, as it gives you a 'reality check', so you can total up how much time and money you have spent already.

The more we talk about responsible gambling behaviour, and the more we help others to understand the risks of taking part in any type of gambling, the better we can safeguard each other and keep gambling a fun activity which doesn’t impact negatively on our lives. 

If we don’t talk about responsible gambling, and, on the flip-side, what is described as problem gambling, we can’t help one another to stay safe.

Chasing your losses – thinking just one more bet will fix everything and bring back all the money you have lost – is one sign that gambling is becoming an issue for someone. Putting gambling before other people and activities in your life is a signal that you are not gambling safely.

There is help available to help you stay in control, or quit completely if that is what you would prefer. If you need support,
GamCare are here for you, and you can also access self-exclusion here.

Remember, gambling is a regulated activity for a reason. Sure it can be fun, but no form of gambling is risk free.  If it was, it wouldn't be called gambling!

Five things to keep in mind;

  1. Only spend what you can afford.
  2. Set your limits
  3. Gambling is not the answer to any problem
  4. Gambling when angry or upset is not a good idea
  5. Gambling shouldn't interfere with your personal relationships.


Parents: How do you talk to a young person about gambling?

Parents or responsible adults are the best people to have initial conversations about responsible gambling with young people. A relationship of trust and honesty is important in making room for young people to ask questions. 
The purpose of an initial conversation should be to find out whether the young person has any thoughts or opinions on gambling, establish it as a behaviour which requires responsibility, and let the young person know that you are happy to talk to them in a non-judgemental way. A good time to bring up problem gambling might be when talking about drugs/ alcohol, around discussions on chance and probability, or when gambling is advertised to them in the media. 

Young people are exposed to gambling from young ages, so use your judgement to see when a young person is ready to have the conversation. This conversation shouldn't be a one-off. Keep bringing the topic up, so that the young person understands it's ok to discuss gambling and even problematic gambling openly. 

Visit www.bigdeal.org.uk for more information and to download factsheets that can help.