A lot of online casino users frequently ask what responsible gaming is, as long as the majority of gambling houses nowadays post information of this kind on their official webpages backed up with various certificates issued by independent auditors. Responsible gaming is a notion that gaming and gambling operators have to bear in mind to ensure their services stick to the highest standards, so that they provide players with safe and fair gaming experience protecting them from adverse consequences of gambling. Another thing operators need to remember is that gambling is a highly addictive type of activity and children belong to the category that is prone to problem gambling (ludomania) most of all.
One of the main goals of an online casino offering responsible gaming is to prevent and provide control over gaming addiction, as well as to deter the under age from gambling and integration of already addicted people into special programs aimed at crackdown on addiction. This article predominantly focuses on how to tell a gambling addict from an ordinary player and what operators should do in order to ensure responsible gaming.
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Who is a gaming addict?
The concept of gaming addiction has become known to the general public a long time ago and implies unhealthy passion for gambling similar to drug addiction. People exposed to this type of disorder are called problem gamblers of gambling addicts. Within gradual transition of land-based casinos into the World Wide Web the number of problem gamblers significantly increased due to ubiquitous accessibility of games of chance. How do people become addicted? Why some people cannot control themselves and fall victims to addiction? Gambling addiction has the same profound roots as drug addiction or alcohol abuse. One of the main causes of that lies in emotional instability that can be provoked by a whole range of factors.
People usually avoid problems by escaping into the imaginary world trying to find substitutes of things they miss in real life. Some of the causes of problem gambling are as follows:
- loneliness and dissatisfaction with life (none of the goals were accomplished, dreams didn’t come true);
- existence of other addictions (predisposition to other obsessions, inherited or acquired);
- desire of becoming rich instantly and solve all problems.
On the physical level people experience deficiency of endorphin and are looking for ways of its compensation by getting positive emotions via gambling. Even though gambling brings insignificant wins, it elevates emotional levels and gradually turns players into addicts. Gambling becomes as addictive as drugs and results in personality disorders.
Acquisition of this addiction seems to be a gradual process:
- A gambler obtains a couple of serious wins and comes to a conclusion that gambling might help to resolve some of the financial problems he/she facing at the moment. Such dreams boost the adrenaline and stimulate elaboration of successful approaches to future gaming sessions;
- Addiction progresses. Stakes are raised due to growing numbers of losses that have to be covered somehow. Gambling becomes even more aggressive. As a result, rates of dopamine drop when a gambler loses his/her money. He/she starts borrowing money from acquaintances and banks. Everything becomes secondary: the most important thing is to win more and pay off debts. People start having problems at home and work;
- Gamblers frequently become involved into criminal schemes because they cannot find money legally anymore. People agree to go with criminal ways because they are on the brink of their forces and cannot pay off their debts. That leads to troubles with law enforcement, families fall apart, they lose jobs;
People start understanding that life went into a downward spiral. Their attempts to bounce back do not bring anything except disappointment and desperation. Some gamblers try to commit suicide, binge drink or take drugs.
Gambling becomes the most important thing for gambling addicts and the rest of things become simply irrelevant. People break social bonds, stop being useful for the society. A particular addiction turns into a social problem and addicted people become dangerous for the society. An off game becomes a trigger for aggressive behavior and constant blames on casino employees.
The physical state of an addict also changes. Because of constant nervous exhaustion gamblers are exposed to blood pressure disorders, indigestion, headaches, depression, rage attacks, delusion of persecution, suspiciousness.
It is almost impossible to get rid of gambling addiction without exterior help. Civilized world solves this problem in various ways: by imposing limitations on problem gamblers and offering them opportunities to undergo special treatment.
Statistics of problem gambling
Despite of the fact that problem gambling has become a serious problem, the statistical data arguably proves: percentage of gambling addicts is relatively low. Scientific studies indicate that the percentage of gambling addicts makes up around 6, 5% out of the total number of gamblers.
In some countries this percentage is even lower (in Switzerland it doesn’t exceed 0, 12%), in the rest of the countries it’s a bit higher (Estonia -6,5%). In addition to the above, among the general population the number of gamblers accounts less than 81% (the USA), while in certain countries – not more than 64% (Australia).
The number of gambling addicts grows, but not at accelerated pace. For instance, gambling is considered to be one of the most popular types of entertainment in Australia, though the general number of gambling addicts has increased only by 0,05%. The companies conducting such scientific researches inform that people are mostly exposed to gambling when they experience personal crunch periods.
Online casino operators vs. problem gambling
By announcing about responsible gambling online casino operators oblige themselves to protect players from negative consequences of gambling. Responsible gaming means taking preventive actions against problem gambling or deterring the under age from gambling activities, introduction of self-restraining programs including definitive therapy.
How do online casino operators impose responsible gaming? During registration on the online casino websites clients go through the process of obligatory authorization. It is very important for enhancement of responsible gaming, as long as it helps to deter children and adolescents from gambling.
In the majority of countries gambling is prohibited for the under age. The procedure of verification is often followed by presenting scans of passports or IDs. Moreover, authorization gives both operators and gamblers certain advantages and provides a certain level of protection, factors that Slotegrator has already reviewed in some of its previous articles.
In order to fight gambling addiction operators provide special training for their employees to teach them how to identify people exposed to addiction. Gambling addicts can be identified by the following criterion:
- Irritability and excitement;
- Increased affection;
- Femails – easy crying and hysteria;
- Males – aggression, attempts to destroy slot machines or other objects, rudeness towards dealers and the rest of players.
Trained employees can easily detect such people and deter them from gambling by offering programs of self-restriction. It implies that addicted gamblers can individually limit their access to the gaming resource, having informed the administration in advance. Moderators block gambler’s access, though do not delete his/her account. After the term of self-restriction expires, gamblers are able to get back to gambling.
The less drastic approach is to limit the number of bets. In some countries such limitations are prescribed by the local legislation (Denmark, Georgia). Gamblers can spend a limited amount of money and the total amount depends directly upon gambler’s income.
Clients inclined to gambling addiction have the right to claim unsubscription from all the existing casino advertising campaigns, newsletters and the rest of notifications, bonus programs and special occasions that may provoke further progress of ludomania.
Additionally, operators offer problem gamblers to join their support programmes. Such programs are provided by charity organizations in collaboration with specialists possessing good command of ludomania treatment.
Do operators risk to lose their clients? Such concerns are unjustified:
- First of all, according to statistics, the number of gambling addicts is insignificant;
- Gamblers can also decide whether to delete their accounts or to keep playing;
- It’s better to register and gamble responsibly in order not to turn into an addict or cause problems to the rest of people around.
How ludomania is uprooted all over the world
In the majority of countries the authorities have a clear understanding of the scope of the consequences caused gambling. Regulators introduce laws aimed at limitation of the access of addicts to their main source of disturbance – games of chance.
Certain countries compare gambling addiction to alcohol and drug abuse and require obligatory medical treatment of gambling addicts. Such a law has been recently adopted in Sweden.
The world community developed a whole range of programs aimed at taking actions against gambling addiction and provision of support to those who were affected by its negative consequences. A whole variety of organizations such as Gambling Therapy Helpline, Morningside Recovery, GamCare provide such services.
Gambling addicts get psychological support, medication and eventually get back to normal. Gambling web sites that instill principles of responsible gambling are obliged to post such information on their official pages.