Responsible Gambling in the UK

Peter Wilson

Responsible gambling is a key part of the online casino and sportsbook industry in the UK. It essentially came about as a series of initiatives to help vulnerable people with gambling issues. Some of it is preventative, such as stopping underage gambling and banning false advertising. Other measures are designed to help those who have developed an addiction to gambling and to promote safer gambling. After all, while the vast majority of players can take it or leave, a minority don’t find it so easy. We will look at all this and more in this article. Let’s begin…

Responsible gambling initiatives in the UK

In conjunction with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), operators (i.e., casino sites) must adhere to certain rules. Here’s a brief overview of the main initiatives and restrictions.

Combating addiction

One of the main commitments of responsible gambling is to raise awareness of potential problems. This is why the vast majority of UK online casinos, sportsbook sites and poker rooms have various methods to help customers control their habits. This includes the ability for self-exclusion, reality checks (pop-ups reminding players to take a break), and various limits. The latter provides useful tools for limiting deposits, losses and time spent gambling.

Underage gambling

The earlier a gambler begins, the more likely they will develop a life-long habit that can be extremely tough to overcome. That’s why a gambling business must do everything possible to prevent those under the age of 18 from gambling. This is why demos or free games are not publically available at UK online casinos – you need to log in to play them. In addition, a payment method is required before playing for real money, preventing minors from gambling.

Payment restrictions

As of April 2020, all UK operators are not allowed to accept credit card payments for gambling services. This also applies to other forms of credit, such as PayPal Credit and similar options provided by Klarna and others. The reasoning is simple. Those addicted to gambling are not in their right minds and they will often rack up huge debts in order to feed their habit. Therefore, preventing the use of credit cards means that players can only gamble with their own money. This is responsible gambling at its best.

Know Your Customer (KYC)

Any gambling operator in the United Kingdom must comply with KYC checks if they want a UKGC license. Know Your Customer (KYC) is essential for blocking fraudulent and/or criminal gambling. Essentially, it requires all operators to request identification documents, and proof of address, and can even go as far as a source of funds check. In this way, money laundering and other financial crimes are much more difficult to pull off in the UK.

Responsible marketing

Gambling marketing is one of the most restricted industries in the UK. Therefore, misleading or not providing full terms and conditions within one click of a promotional offer will result in huge fines for the operator in question. The rules even go so far as to not allow any models aged 25 or below – they must both be and appear to be over that age. Certain words are not permitted either. For example, a casino company should not advertise something as free if wagering applies.

What is gambling addiction?

And addiction to gambling (or ‘ludomania’ to give you the more fancy name) affects around 0.5% of the UK adult population. Roughly speaking, that’s around 250,000 people, although it’s estimated that around two million people are at risk of addiction. In short, when we say someone is addicted, they behave compulsively and cannot stop themselves easily. And this can be despite it affecting their well-being, their relationships with others and their finances. However, there is no physical dependence, unlike other forms of addiction. Instead, an addiction to gambling is now seen as a disease of the mind and is purely psychological.

10 possible warning signs of an addiction to gambling

The following details are not a definitive list of symptoms. But they do act as a general guide. Indeed, many addicts may only tick one or two of them off, or they may have experienced all of them at one stage or another. On the flip side, simply ticking off one of the items doesn’t necessarily mean you have problems. Nevertheless, it could be time to rethink your gambling activities. So, in no particular order, here are some of the key warning signs…

Where to get help for gambling problems

If you’re looking for support to control your gambling, you have several options. Responsible gambling provides resources for self-excluding, reality checks and reaching out for support from a professional organisation that is dedicated to treating addiction. Here are some of your options for help…

Support at UK online casinos

Many online operators and betting sites provide surveys to take if you feel you might have a problem. These can be a vital first indication of a problem. In addition to that, you can always reach out to customer support to talk about your problems. The staff are trained to spot the warning signs. So, they can offer you a cooling-off period, to opt out of any future marketing materials or even close your account permanently if playing is no longer fun.

Tools for safer gambling

Linked to the above, there are several technological solutions to restrict your playing time. To illustrate what we mean, you can now put limits on your weekly deposits, your time spent playing games and your losses over a given period of time. And if that isn’t quite enough, you can sign up at blocking sites such as GAMSTOP to prevent yourself from accessing any UK online casinos or sportsbook sites. Some payment companies can also block your access, too.

Addiction organisations

There are several UK organisations that offer free, confidential advice. Those who need to talk to a professional with experience in problem gambling can get in contact to receive helpful, practical advice and resources. We’ve listed the UK organisations below in alphabetical order:

Finally, if you would rather speak to someone directly who can point out the best services for your needs, you can always call the UK National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133.

More information

If you would like to learn more about responsible gambling, please check out our guide to playing responsibly at online casinos.

Responsible Gambling FAQ

What is responsible gambling?

It's an initiative to raise awareness of problem gambling, addiction and related issues for a minority of players around the world. The United Kingdom has been and continues to be at the forefront of this movement through research, law changes and other initiatives.

What are the warning signs of gambling problems?

There are many warning signs and not everyone experiencing problems will exhibit them for all to see. To be fair, many addicts are able to hide their habits from everyone and even from themselves when it comes to being in denial. For a full breakdown of signs, see our list above.

Can I self-exclude from all online gambling?

It's certainly possible to self-exclude from all UKGC-licensed casinos and sports betting sites, although it may not be possible to do this around the world. But using a service like GAMSTOP can block you from every page on any iGaming site, so be sure to check that out first of all.

What useful tools are there for gambling addicts?

Aside from the blocking apps mentioned above, there are some other methods for putting the brakes on your habits. So, if you can no longer afford to gamble, consider putting limits on your deposits per month, your time spent playing games and your losses using on-site widgets.

Where can I get help for gambling issues in the UK?

If you need support, there are several options available to you, including talking to friends and family. From there, you can choose to self-exclude or use various apps to block yourself from casino or betting sites. For professional, confidential advice, see our list of organisations above.

How can I gamble responsibly?

Well, you're certainly in the right place. You've clearly been doing your research, so we have no complaints there. So, aside from all of the advice given above, take the time to really assess your playing habits from time to time, and reach out to someone if you feel overwhelmed.

Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
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Peter is our Editor-in-Chief at Gamblingauthority. He has more than eigth years of experience from the iGaming industry and is a valuable resource for everything related to online casinos.

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