There are suggestions that there are more problem gamblers than ever before, with the proliferation of mobile phones and online gambling leading to people, particularly millennials, struggling to stop themselves from placing bets on a regular basis.
A report by the social research group NatCen suggested that the biggest issues with problem gamblers were those that indulged in spread betting and placing wagers on betting exchanges, whilst the think tank IPPR in the same year suggested that problem gambling cost the UK up to £1.2 billion a year.
One of the natural questions when you think about all of this is what can the average punter do if they think they’ve got a problem with gambling? There are a number of methods you can use to limit how much you can gamble that are provided by bookmakers themselves, though they are inevitably not going to be as all encompassing as other methods when you remember that it is in a bookie’s interest for you to place bets with them.
With that in mind, what other methods are out there to stop you from gambling if you feel as though you’ve got a problem?
Safe Gambling Tools Provided By Betting Sites
Open an account with a bookmaker and you’ll see plenty of warnings about knowing when enough is enough and gambling responsibly.
As a result, it’s no major surprise to know that the majority of sensible and reliable bookies offer numerous ways in which you can limit your own gambling activity in a number of different ways.
Here’s a look at the most obvious ones:
Not everyone who gambles is a problem gambler, but sometimes people lose sight of how much they’ve bet in a given period of time. If you find yourself in that situation then the first thing you’ll want to do is limit the amount that you can deposit into your account.
You can usually choose whether you want to do this on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, with the option that you choose typically depending on how often you tend to put money into your account and then spend it, resulting in the need to deposit more money.
The system is simple enough: you tell your bookmaker that you only want to be able to deposit, for example, £100 per week and once you’ve paid that much money into your account you’ll have to wait until the end of the week before you’re able to put in any more. If you want to change your deposit amount then you’re normally able to at the end of the previously time limit, so the end of the week, say.
If you’re a customer of a bookmaker that offers a scheme whereby you can deposit money into your online account courtesy of their high street stores then you’ll likely find that doing so will count towards your overall limit. In other words, you won’t be able to pay £100 in online and then add another £100 in-store if you have a £100 deposit limit in place.
Stake and Loss Limits work in a similar way, with the former stopping you from betting more than a given amount in one go. Loss Limits, as the name suggests, allow customers to limit the amount of money that they can lose over a given period of time.
Nowadays the majority of online bookmakers offer numerous different products, like sports betting, poker and bingo for example. You can normally chose whether you’d like to add a Loss Limit to individual products or to your entire account and when you’ve hit your Loss Limit then you won’t be able to place any more bets until your chosen time period is over.
Time Out & Session Limits
Time Outs are, as the name suggests, a facility provided by online bookmakers that allows you to not be allowed to gamble for a given period of time. Normally this ranges from 24 hours to 6 weeks, with the process meaning that you cannot place a bet during this time period and won’t be able to use your account until the Time Out is over.
Session Time Limits work in a similar fashion, except that you declare how long you’d like to be able to gamble for and you’re removed from the system when that time limit is up. Usually you are told when your time limit is at its end and you’re asked if you’d like to carry on betting, with a 30 second break in play provided to give you time to think about whether to carry on.
It is typical for bookmakers to provide a 20 minute limit to betting time if you don’t set your own limit, meaning that you’ll be asked if you want to take a break every 20 minutes or with every £150 that you spend.
Whether you tend to bet mostly online or in-store, you can ask to be excluded from the ability to gamble if you think you’re spending too much money or time on the activity. It is common for the self-exclusion period to be for 6 or 12 months, during which time the bookmaker or other gambling business should do everything reasonable to stop you from gambling.
There is also the option to partially self-exclude with online bookmakers, whereby you can choose the product you’d like to be banned from betting on, such as sports, whilst being allowed to continue using a casino product, for example. If you think that you have a bigger problem with one side of gambling than another then this might be the right option for you.
Independent Tools and Advice Services
The responsibility isn’t all on the bookmakers, of course. You can do plenty to help yourself, including turning to external services that can be used to limit your gambling exploits. Here’s a look at some of them:
The biggest issue with the move from gambling companies to the online market is the sheer number of websites out there that allow you to place bets. There are an almost limitless number of sportsbook sites, for example, with new ones popping up with alarming regularity.
GamBlock has been designed to block access to online gambling providers, using sophisticated analysing software to block even the newest of gambling sites in real time. It is common for the likes of government buildings, hospitals and libraries to use something like GamBlock to stop people from going on betting websites when on their WiFi.
The system is available for mobile phones and computers as well as networks, so it can be installed for a small fee and users can have piece of mind that they won’t be able to access the vast majority of websites that allow betting as long as it’s installed.
This is a nationwide scheme that the Gambling Commission hopes to require bookmakers to join if they wish to have a gambling license. The idea behind the scheme is that it asks users to give their postcode, date of birth and email address and this information is then sent out to all of the bookmakers and gambling companies online.
The theory is that you will then be unable to sign up to or use gambling accounts with the cooperating companies for a period of between six months and 5 years. You’ll still need to request your funds back from any companies that you have accounts with.
Help Yourself To Gamble Responsibly
If you feel that you might be developing a gambling problem then one of the first things you’ll want to consider doing is talking to your friends and family. This is obviously a difficult process, but they will be the first people that will want to help you figure out how to move forward and stop yourself from gambling if that’s what you want to do.
If you’re unsure about speaking to your friends and family then another recourse could be to speak to your GP. There is evidence that the likes of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help reduce people’s need to gamble, which your GP can tell you more about and point you in the right direction for.
Your GP might also point you in the direction of your local Gamblers Anonymous organisation. This is a fellowship of men and women who want to stop gambling and help each other in that process. There are meetings taking place throughout the week all around the United Kingdom, offering you the chance to go along and begin the process of helping yourself.
Stopping gambling isn’t an easy thing to do. You shouldn’t feel hard on yourself if it’s something that you struggle with and it’s important to remember it’s a long process. The reality is that the proliferation of gambling sites online and apps on your mobile phone mean that placing a bet is easier than ever before, so the process of excluding yourself from gambling as an activity is close to impossible. All you can do is keep going and turn to whatever avenues of help you can find.