When practiced responsibly, gambling and online sports betting can be a safe and enjoyable form of entertainment. But for some people, their gambling habit can quickly become a problem that significantly impacts their personal lives.
By learning how to gamble safely and responsibly, you can enjoy online sports betting without suffering significant personal or financial consequences. This includes knowing when to cut your losses, taking breaks when necessary, and sticking to a strict gambling budget to avoid overspending.
Here’s what you need to know about how to practice responsible gambling.
Common Gambling Risks
When practiced responsibly, gambling is generally considered safe, but it’s important to be aware of the risks you face so you can protect yourself against significant financial losses and other consequences.
Here are some of the most common gambling risks you should be aware of.
Gambling addiction is a major issue that can significantly impact your personal life. Not only can gambling addiction ruin your financial health, but it can also damage your personal relationships and negatively impact your mental health.
Individuals with a history of addiction should avoid gambling so they don’t develop a harmful gambling habit.
If you believe you have or are starting to develop a gambling addiction, you should contact the National Council on Problem Gambling hotline at 1-800-522-4700. This hotline will help connect you with local resources to combat your gambling addiction. You can also visit the National Council of Problem Gambling website to find more gambling addiction resources.
One of the most common gambling risks is overspending. After placing a losing bet, it can be tempting to continue placing bets to recoup your losses. However, this often results in even greater losses as you continue to place riskier bets with the hopes of getting your money back.
When gambling or betting on sports online, you should always set and stick to a strict spending limit to avoid betting more than you can afford to lose.
When it comes to online sports betting, in particular, you should be wary of theft and scams. Disreputable online sportsbooks may steal your money outright or refuse to honor payouts after you place a winning bet.
The best way to avoid this issue is to only place bets using reputable online sportsbooks with valid gambling licenses and positive customer testimonials.
When betting online, you should also be wary of rigged games and bets. Some sportsbooks, for example, may create their own odds that favor themselves at the expense of their customers. Online casinos may also set up rigged casino games that make it nearly impossible for users to actually win.
Identity theft and fraud
Another common risk with online gambling is identity theft and fraud. Most online sportsbooks and casinos require you to submit sensitive information, including your financial information, photo ID, address, phone number, debit or credit card information, and more.
To prevent your identity from being stolen, it’s important to only submit any sensitive information if you are sure you can trust the sportsbook or casino you’re using. You should also watch out for email phishing scams, as you may be targeted by malicious individuals pretending to be the sportsbook in order to steal your personal information.
What Is Problem Gambling?
Many people practice responsible gambling and only bet what they can afford to lose. Others, though, may fall victim to problem gambling, which includes gambling behavior that negatively impacts your personal life and relationships.
To avoid significant financial losses and other negative consequences, it’s important to be able to recognize when you may be developing a gambling problem.
Common signs of problem gambling include:
- Consistently overspending
- Feeling a strong urge to chase losses
- A need to bet more and more frequently
- An inability to take breaks from gambling
- Betting more than you know you can afford to lose
- Asking others to borrow money to gamble
- Avoiding responsibilities in favor of gambling more often
For some, a gambling addiction may not even result in debt or extreme financial losses, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Even if you haven’t experienced significant losses, problem gambling can still result in strained personal relationships and mental health decline.
How to Practice Responsible Gambling
Many of the common risks associated with gambling, including problem gambling, can be avoided by learning and utilizing responsible gambling practices. From setting strict spending limits to taking regular breaks, there are several steps you can take to minimize your risk of suffering consequences as a result of gambling.
Here’s how to practice responsible gambling.
Set and stick to spending limits
One of the most important aspects of responsible gambling is setting and sticking to strict spending limits. When gambling, it can be very tempting to go over your spending limit to recoup your losses, but this often results in placing several losing bets that leave you in a deep financial hole.
You should never bet more than you can afford or are willing to lose. This amount varies from person to person depending on their financial circumstances, but as a general rule of thumb, if you would experience any financial hardships or financial anxiety after losing a certain amount of money, you should not bet that much.
If you have already reached your spending limit but want to continue playing games, many online casinos offer free games you can play using virtual currency. While you may not win any money, you can still enjoy the games and experience the thrill of winning.
Avoid gambling while under the influence
You should always gamble with a clear head, meaning you should never gamble while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
When under the influence, your judgment may be significantly impaired, making it difficult to make responsible decisions. While gambling under the influence, you may be more prone to overspending and chasing losses.
Gambling is meant to be a source of entertainment. If you’re not having fun gambling due to frustration or excessive losses, you should take a break and avoid placing any more bets until you feel like you can return to gambling with a clear head.
Taking regular breaks from gambling not only helps you avoid overspending, but it can also help prevent developing a gambling addiction. If you find it difficult to take breaks due to an urge to gamble, it may be a sign that you have or are developing a dangerous gambling habit.
Remember that gambling is entertainment
Gambling is not meant to be a legitimate way to earn money — it is strictly for recreation and entertainment. As long as you continue to view gambling as a fun hobby rather than a source of income, you’re more likely to keep your gambling habit under control.
You should accept that you are likely to lose money and should never expect to win. Your goal should be to have fun, not make money. If you realize you are gambling to earn money rather than to have fun, it may be a good idea to take a break or give up gambling altogether.
Don’t chase losses
One of the worst habits you can develop when gambling is consistently chasing losses. Chasing losses means placing a bet specifically to make up for a losing bet. For example, after losing $1,000 on a bet, you decide to place a $100 bet with unfavorable odds in an attempt to win back the money you lost.
It can be easy to convince yourself the small bet is worth it as you stand to win all your money back. After all, you’re already out $1,000, so how much of a difference does the extra $100 make?
However, as you continue to chase your losses, these bets add up quickly, and you may soon find yourself in a financial hole you can’t get out of.
No matter how tempting it is to place another bet, you should never go over your spending limit.
Set time limits
Setting time limits is a great way to exercise self-control and avoid overspending at the casino. When you’re planning to gamble, give yourself a set amount of time. Once that time is up, you should stop gambling for the day — even if you haven’t hit your spending limit.