Gambling addiction is a topic that always causes much discussion in various communities. Is playing casino slots a nice rest or a vicious addiction? Means of earnings or a fascinating pastime?
In fact, any arguments, in this case, are meaningless. The answer to these questions depends primarily on the player’s attitude to gambling.
Initially, gambling casino games are offer visitors as a fascinating pastime. Regardless of whether free slots or slot machines for money are preferred, gambling is primarily an entertainment. Even if it means financial investments. But no one judges those who like going to cinemas, restaurants or tourist trips. Meanwhile, any of such events requires cash expenses and budgeting as well. Casino slot machines should be treated the same, as an entertainment. Moreover, the right to choose the format of the game – for money or for free – is up to a player.
However, do all casino visitors take playing as a pleasant pastime? Is there still a risk of gaining an excessive gambling habit? Let us consider a few special terms and results of official analyses.
What does the term “gambling addiction” mean
In the modern information space, problem gambling issue is discussed with enviable regularity and activeness. Numerous publications about the dangers of gambling involuntarily form the opinion that everyone who plays slots is an addict in need of immediate psychological assistance. Moreover, some sources say, once you play a slot machine, you will not be able to abandon gambling, which will inevitably lead to terrible consequences.
It interesting, that, as a rule, these things are said by people who have a very dim view of gambling. And what do authoritative sources say of this?
According to the encyclopaedic definition, ludomania is a pathological gambling addiction occurring with frequent participation in gambling and putting the game into a dominant position in life. At the same time, there is decreased interest in social, professional, family values. Note, that we are talking about pathological addiction, crowding out of the person’s life any other interests and values, but not about the usual game, serving as entertainment during spare time.
Does ludomania occur in all casino visitors? Not at all. The results of research conducted by analysts Society for the Protection of consumers in Norway, the UK, Denmark, showed:
- Online casino games and sports betting are one of the most popular forms of entertainment among European consumers. However, the indicator of the number of “problem” players, those who tend to be an addict, remains quite low within 0.5-3%.
- As for Norway, among the 10 thousand gamblers who participated in the recent research, only 0.7% people were at risk of having gambling problems. It is interesting, that this ratio corresponds to results of research in 2002 and 2007. In other words, the spread of the problem is not observed.
- UK indicators are almost identical. Among 9 thousand people, 0.6% of subjects showed signs of compulsive gambling.
At the same time, more than 99% of players show moderate interest in gambling entertainment, often playing casino games for free.
The data is quite trustworthy. The studies were conducted by competent specialists, including representatives of the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Signs of gambling addiction
Obviously, the level of ludomania is not too high, despite the popularity of gambling. But let’s go back to the significant percentage of players who may be experiencing difficulties. Is it possible to identify a group of people with specific signs meaning the development of gambling addiction?
Psychologists say that anyone who is not aware of risks and takes gambling recklessly can obtain an addiction. Symptoms of excessive gambling habit can be:
- taking games as a way to earn money;
- being not able to set limits on the game;
- unjustified aggression against casino employees;
- a desire to borrow money to play slot machines.
Should this occur, it is recommended to put aside playing a slot in order to restore the emotional condition.
At the same time, experts say, avoiding the development of problem gambling is not too difficult. Modern casinos offer the possibility to play free games for fun with bonus rounds. This solution provides taking gambling as an entertainment only and do not prejudice financial situation of players.
Admirers of cash games can stick to simple rules of bankroll management – a system of management and control of own finances.
Initially, the concept of bankroll management appeared among poker players. The system of calculating the size of bets considering available budget allowed increasing chances of winning, holding on a sufficient period of time in a game to achieve victory. Based on bankroll management, professionals calculated the exact number of game rounds with a certain level of investment.
A conditional bankroll management can also be used for playing slots. In this embodiment, the system is essentially about allocating a specific sum intended for gambling.
This process is similar to conventional budgeting. When going to cinema, restaurant, travel, we always allocate certain funds for selected activities. With casinos, you need to act in a similar way. Going to have fun on online slot machines? Allocate a specific sum of money for a pleasant rest and do not spend more than planned.
The second component of bankroll management is the determination of the bet size in proportion to allocated budget. All slots provide a possibility to specify the number of credits per line. The lower the rate, the more spins a player can make, thereby increasing the duration of entertainment.
To understand the features of a specific slot machine, to determine a volatility level and return to player ratio, you can use free slot machines. Demo game will help to evaluate how good a slot is.
Responsible gambling in casinos
It should be noted, that casino themselves seek to protect their users from the potential gambling addiction. One of the main tasks of any casino is to guarantee safe and innovative entertainment platform for adults. To achieve these objectives, a range of different steps are made:
- Ensuring players safety. Implementation of this provision is based on guidelines provided by the European Gambling and Betting Association. Along with those, the provisions of the current legislation of the country are taken into account. In particular, gambling venues that offer casino games guard against underage guests. Many licensed resources require identity verification, which means providing copies of documents confirming the age of a player. Processing of personal data and information relating to financial transactions is made under conditions of strict confidentiality. Advertising mailing, notifying users about important events, such as providing and accruing new bonuses, tournaments and promotions, are carried out exclusively with the consent of players. At the same time, users can select a particular method of receiving news: via e-mail or sms. The quality of gaming machines, integrity, transparency of casino activities are necessarily monitored by independent regulators.
- Guaranteeing the security of gambling. Licensed casinos carefully monitor activities, which may indicate probable fraud. Manipulation with varying bet results, money laundering, illegal conversion – all these actions have nothing to do with gambling and fall into the category of criminal acts. In this regard, gambling venues work in close cooperation with the ESSA (European Sports Security Association) and the EGBA.
- Allowing blocking access to a casino. Some players notice signs of gambling addiction on their own. These visitors have the opportunity to block the account for a certain period of time. Contacting support with a request to block access to a casino, customers can specify any time period from 24 hours to 6 months. Throughout this period, a player will not be able to play casino games, not to mention the possibility of conducting financial transactions. Along with those, a site refuses to unlock access until the end of the assigned period and stops sending promotional emails. As an additional measure, you can use the restriction on cash transactions. After assigning the financial limits to casino employees, players cannot make deposits above the specified sum.
- Identifying signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, a potential interference. As mentioned, the majority of players visiting casinos use slots for fun by playing simulators or recharging balance with a moderate amount of money. Noticing “symptoms” of compulsive gambling, that regular players may have, is not too difficult. Changing of certain habits and behaviour pattern instantly attracts the attention of a casino representatives. Increased frequency of visits, increased amount of deposits and bet the size, aggressive dialogues with support – all these are factors that indicate the occurrence of the problem. To detect these signs, the casino has a special department dedicated to the processing of data. Players, who are believed to have ludomania development, may be prohibited from participating in entertainment. Additionally, clients receive contact details of organisations that specialise in providing professional assistance, support for players.
GamCare Company – professional support of players suffering problem gambling
GamCare company can be distinguished as the most famous representative of this gambling market sector. Established in 1997, today it is the largest independent charity in the UK, specialising in providing free consulting support to people at risk for gambling addiction. The company’s headquarters is located in London. The current President of GamCare is lord Sharman.
Company GamCare notes three main strategic directions of its activity:
- helping players susceptible to ludomania;
- forming of deliberate and responsible approach to gambling;
- improving understanding of the nature of gambling and its impact on the social environment.
The GamCare company’s main activity is supporting players suffering from gambling addiction, as well as their families, relatives, friends. The assistance is provided by experienced psychologists of narrow qualifications. In most cases, consultations are held by telephone. However, there are more opportunities: chatting with experts through the Internet and even in person. The company regularly organises groups and individual lessons to help get rid of the addiction.
Along with the players, GamCare specialists support citizens who are suffering from ludomania, though feel an attraction to gambling. Visiting various events that help to understand what is the essence of such entertainment, what is meant by the concept of responsible gambling, will help to avoid the abuse.
Relatives of gamblers can familiarise with the basic guidelines for working with an addicted person on the official company website. Here are the basic principles of identifying the problem, building a support strategy.
Along with the practical work, GamCare company supports gambling security. Its functions include:
- monitoring social responsibility of companies that provide access to various types of gambling entertainment, including casinos, bookmakers, fantasy sports operators.
- transferring the necessary information to the authorities of the country.
- cooperation with gambling operators.
The majority of licensed gambling operators seek to become an owner of the GamCare certificate. To gain the support of the company, they often have to implement specific rules and conditions for to meet standards required by provisions of the GamCare Code of Practice for Remote Gambling.
Pages of casino-partners contain the logo GamCare Certification, confirming the ability of gambling venue to ensure responsible gaming for visitors and provide, if necessary, a proper support. The staff of such operators undergo regular GamCare training courses, allowing to increase the efficiency and quality of customer support service.
Today, GamCare operates almost over the whole territory of Great Britain. A developed partner network of agencies, bringing together more than 100 independent institutions and organisations, allows serving more than 85% of the players who asked for help. Some organisations – GamCare agents – provide additional support to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.
The company regularly carries out additional activities and events. In 2012, the launch of a special project BigDeal took place, designed to work with young 12-18 people. The company constantly trains staff members of the gambling business, as well as teachers, doctors and other professionals whose work helps create a proper understanding of the nature of gambling.
Apart from GamCare, a large number of organisations helping to overcome gambling addiction operate in the UK:
- BigDeal – mentioned project, designed to work with underage persons;
- The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy;
Similar organisations operate in all states that have legalised gambling: China, Northern Ireland, Holland, Australia and others. View the list of companies on the pages of GamCare website.
State regulation of gambling
Requirements to gambling business, monitoring the integrity of casinos activities are set out by state legislation. Different countries may use different mechanisms to protect citizens. In particular, Russia allocated four special gambling zones in order to organise the work of casinos. Outside the boundaries, any gambling activities are considered illegal and classified as criminal offences.
However, in general, there are several basic integrated requirements set out by a state and operating in land-based casinos:
- Age restrictions. Only adult citizens can become guests of a casino. Before entering a casino, visitors need to provide documents confirming their identity and age.
- Monitoring of client costs. A casino can have specific financial requirements, limiting player’s expenses to a certain range.
- Providing information on responsible gambling. The first time a player visits a club, he may be required to be filled in the questionnaire, familiarise with rules of responsible gambling.
- Staff training. Casino employees go for special courses that allow obtaining skills of identifying players addicted to gambling.
- Self-exclusion option. Visitors can independently apply to ban the access to casino services. This feature is available to relatives and players. Relatives of a person suffering from compulsive gambling can require a ban on access to gambling venue.
Licensed gambling institutions always seek to ensure the safety of visitors, including the providing of support to players suffering ludomania. However, we recall, the percentage of people who experience an irresistible attraction to gambling is very small. To maintain control over own emotions, it is enough to remember, that gambling is nothing more than a great entertainment.