Everyone Talks about Responsible Gambling… but What is It Really?

Responsible Gaming: What is It Exactly?

When it comes to online gambling, it’s difficult for gamblers, casinos, and designers to agree on just about anything.

What’s the best game out there for beating the house edge? (We’d say blackjack, but that’s only valid when playing with optimal strategy.) Who makes the best live dealer titles? Which casinos offer the best bonuses around?

While we could offer our views, (and we’ll admit we definitely do have some strong opinions) there is no one, sure answer for any of these questions. Ask 100 industry insiders, and you’ll likely get 100 different answers.

One thing everyone seems to agree on, though, is the importance of responsible gaming in the modern market.

Just about every casino, gambling site, and platform agrees that responsible play is essential…

… and that is great news!

Unfortunately, no one seems interested enough to go the extra mile and determine exactly what responsible gaming actually means.

Is it a matter of strategy, bankroll management, or table selection?

Does it come down to which games you play, or which casinos you play them at?

Or this is all code for whether or not a player is winning? Is there such a thing as irresonsible winning play? (We would argue: yes!)

Let’s get into it!

Elements of Responsible Gaming

One government body offers a definition of responsible gaming that we quite like:

Exercising control and informed choice to ensure that gambling is kept within affordable limits of money and time, is enjoyable, in balance with other activities and responsibilities, and avoids gambling-related harm.

Another way to put it would be that responsible play is sustainable play.

Any gaming behaviors that make it hard to remain active over the long term are most likely behaviors that you will want to change as soon as possible!

So, what does this look like in practice?

  • It is fun — If your wagering hobby isn’t bringing you any pleasure, that’s a bad sign indeed. At least 99% of players are amateurs, so if you aren’t using your winnings to pay your mortgage and fund your IRA, remember that the game is supposed to be enjoyable!
  • It takes up neither too much time nor too much money — Healthy gaming habits don’t come between players and the people, activities, and other hobbies they love. This means that gaming should leave time for other elements of a happy life, like regular exercise, time with loved ones, and the like.
  • Bets are made from a bankroll made up of disposable income — This should go without saying, but responsible wagers can only come from money players can afford to lose. If you find yourself gambling with money you need for the bills, for food, tuition, or the like, it’s time to stop and take a hard look in the mirror.
  • No drugs or alcohol are involved — While some players find that mild amounts of substance use can enhance the gambling experience, as a rule of thumb: responsible gaming is sober gaming. Even if this weren’t the case, inebriation means sloppier gaming decisions, which means the house wins more over time. So it’s a responsible and a winning choice!
  • Friends and family are not alienated — Just as not all loved ones need to share your preferences on culture, art, or politics, it’s fine if some folks in your life don’t particularly care for your gambling hobby. If, however, some of them are concerned about your wagering ways, that’s a major red flag.
  • Limits are both set ahead of time and adhered to — though skillful play (which includes quality bankroll management and playing within ones means) is not synonymous with responsible play, both require an honest assessment of how much you can afford to lose and how long you can afford to play. Those decisions have to be made in advance of a gaming session, then kept in the heat of the moment. Gaming that lacks one or both of these elements can simply not be called responsible.

Taken all together, we can start to understand what responsible gaming looks like.

It’s also worth noting, that, while every gambler in the world loves winning, it’s possible to gamble responsibly while also losing over the short (or even long) term. Likewise, players who win without following the above practices will likely come to grief sooner or later.

Looking at the above factors, it also becomes easy to why problem gaming can jump out so clearly to the practiced eye.

What Responsible Gaming Is Not

One absolutely essential fact: responsible gaming is not a set of practices for gambling addicts to continue to succomb to their disease with slightly lessened harmful consequences.

As a friendly reminder, just as there is no such thing as social, harmless drinking for alcoholics, there is no such thing as responsible gaming for gambling addicts. There’s no world in which problem gamblers can modify their behavior so as to render betting a harmless activity.

As such, no form of responsible gaming practice can protect players with strong tendencies towards problem gambling from potentially harmful behavior. It cannot be managed or handled – but it can be treated!

If you think you can keep it under control while continuing to play, you can’t.

If you think you are immune from the potentially disastrous consequences of gambling addition, you aren’t.

Plenty of smart, good people have lost homes, jobs, and families because of this disease – so please take it seriously.

If you or anyone you know may have a gambling problem, we strongly suggest seeking help immediately. Like, right now.

Samuel Read profile image Samuel Read LCB Reviewer - last updated 2022-11-22
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