Safer Gambling Week is an annual UK-wide campaign which seeks to encourage and promote responsible gambling. Now in its 6th year, it runs from 13-19 November.
Throughout Safer Gambling Week, slot sites and betting shops will be promoting and emphasising safer gambling behaviours whilst introducing players to safer gambling tools and encouraging them to seek help should they need it.
How Safer Gambling Week can help
Education is at the heart of Safer Gambling Week. The campaign looks to inform people of all ages about the potential dangers of irresponsible gambling – a key driver being to reduce the number of future problem gamblers.
Also, as part of its broad educational narrative, Safer Gambling Week reminds players that gambling isn’t a way to make money – it's a source of entertainment.
The campaign encourages the use of safer gambling tools which includes ways to set personal restrictions and limits. A key element to Safer Gambling Week is ensuring players know how to access and use these tools.
Advice is crucial in the prevention and treatment of harmful gambling practices. Safer Gambling Week promotes the use of existing support services and networks, reminding players who may need them how to access them.
Top tips for responsible gambling
In terms of practical advice, there are a few things that players should keep in mind to help them prevent or overcome unhealthy gambling habits.
- Before you begin a session, have in mind a figure of how much you’d like to win. If you’re lucky enough to reach this figure, quit while you’re ahead, regardless of any other factors.
- Set yourself a strict financial limit and stick to it. Certain tools can assist with this, as well as the use of specific payment methods such as prepaid cards.
- Time limits can be useful when trying to limit losses, particularly when combined with a financial limit. Stop when you reach either.
- Take frequent breaks, as this helps to keep time and spending in perspective, whilst ensuring that you don’t begin to wager compulsively and without due consideration.
- Be honest with yourself, particularly regarding how much you can afford to lose, and whether or not your behaviour constitutes problem gambling.
Make use of tools
There are various safer gambling tools available to players in the UK. It’s a requirement that these are offered, and it’s a great idea to make use of them, whether you struggle with gambling or not.
Safer gambling tools include time and deposit limits, which are built into casino sites. It can be easy to lose track of time and/or losses during a session. These tools can help you to keep on top of things.
Self-exclusion is another option. There are various self-exclusion schemes in the UK which players can engage with. You won’t be able to opt out of the scheme until it expires, which is usually after 6 months or more, and you will need to undergo ID checks. Once opted in, you won’t receive marketing materials or access to betting sites (and sometimes betting shops).
Blocking software can help you by making gambling websites inaccessible on your devices. Some of these services are free, and can block thousands of gambling websites at the same time.
Knowing the warning signs is crucial. Indicators that you may be engaging in irresponsible gambling or forming harmful habits include the following.
- Neglecting other aspects of normal, daily life, such as family, friends, work or personal health.
- Experiencing anxiousness, worry, guilt or depression.
- Chasing losses or using gambling as a means to get money.
- Spending more than you can realistically afford to lose.
- Struggling to stick to your limits or being unable to stop when you should.
- Needing to wager increasingly large amounts to achieve the same ‘buzz’.
- Gambling with money which you have borrowed, or selling possessions to fund gambling.
- Lying about or hiding gambling from those around you.
If you find yourself exhibiting any of these behaviours, it might be time to reach out for support.
Everyone needs a helping hand every now and then. If you or someone you know has been adversely affected by gambling and you’d like to reach out for help, a number of charitable UK organisations can provide support.
Gamcare should probably be your first point of contact. They offer a free service through which struggling players can contact an adviser by phone, live chat, or other methods. They're contactable 24/7. The Gamcare website also hosts a fantastic online community, giving players a chance to connect with others who may be going through similar experiences.
GambleAware runs The National Gambling Support Network, which is essentially a country-wide group of support services offering “free, confidential and personalised support for anyone who’s experiencing problems from gambling”. This service can also be accessed any time, any day, either online, by telephone, or face to face.
These services provide judgement-free support to players who are struggling. They’re great at what they do, so, if you’ve experienced any of the warning signs mentioned above, or if you feel that you may benefit from what they offer, don’t hesitate to reach out.
And longer term...
It's reasonable to assume that over time new legislation will be introduced by regulators to support the drive to reduce problem gambling habits.
A mandatory levy applied to gambling operators, to support problem gambling initiatives through the NHS seems to be only a matter of time.
Watch this space.