Responsible Online Gambling
The idea of responsible gambling sounds simple enough. The concept applies to all types of gambling and holds operators to a standard in which players are provided a safe and fair experience with protections from potentially negative consequences.
Gamblers also have a role in responsible gambling, as they should play sensibly, meaning within their financial and emotional limits. As well, they should be aware of the assistance that is available if their gambling activities exceed those limits and enter unfamiliar or dangerous territory. Players should also know that the operators providing the games they enjoy must uphold certain standards. Operators are ultimately responsible to their customers.
The onus is on gambling operators. They must adhere to guidelines that ensure safety, quality, fairness, transparency, reliability, and responsibility. And they must offer every possible protection for their players.
Seven Primary Responsibilities
Standards of responsible online gaming differ from those established for land-based gambling facilities. The technology offers more challenges and, thus, dictates a unique set of standards.
The seven primary components of responsible gambling are as follows:
- Protect vulnerable gamblers.
- Prevent underage gambling.
- Protect against criminal activities.
- Ensure information privacy.
- Protect online payments.
- Provide a secure online environment.
- Market ethically and responsibly.
These can be categorized into several segments.
The labeling of some gamblers as vulnerable is a bit of a misnomer because all gamblers can be vulnerable to gaming’s pitfalls. Problems like addiction often affect those who least expect it.
The role of online gambling operators is to offer assistance in numerous forms, the first of which is to offer self-exclusion programs. This not only makes information about self-exclusion readily available to all players but enables a confidential process by which they can ban themselves from a gaming site for a period of time. There are also steps leading to that action, which can include setting financial limits for deposit amounts and even gambling stakes, as well as time limits to be allowed on a site.
Gambling regulators can also offer self-exclusion for an entire industry. For example, a player can ban oneself from all online gambling sites in a particular jurisdiction.
Both operators and regulators implement technological advancements that allow player identification checks to verify ages. In the New Jersey market, for example, there have been no reports of underage online gambling in the four-plus years since the industry was built on the latest verification technology.
In addition, operators and regulators should offer information for parents about parental control programs and apps that keep children from accessing accounts and playing on the sites for real money.
Finally, every website involved in online gambling should provide responsible gambling information that includes local and national organizations that offer assistance for anyone concerned about or in danger from gambling addiction. Players should be able to easily find contact information for agencies that can immediately and directly address gambling problems.
Protecting Privacy and Payments
One of the biggest concerns in the online gambling space is criminal activity. There could be opportunities, as with any online entity, of criminals using accounts for money laundering and hacking. Gambling sites are tasked with providing the latest in available security, as well as monitoring abilities to quickly detect any problematic behaviors or activities, flag for review, and ban those elements or report to law enforcement authorities. All sites set their standards high so as not to become susceptible to activities that could jeopardize players or the companies themselves.
Along the same lines, operators must protect their customers’ private information, including everything from addresses to bank account details. Hacking is becoming more common in the financial world, and operators must implement security measures that combat those criminal elements.
There is also a duty for operators to be upfront about their privacy policies with regard to disseminating customer information to third parties and affiliates.
Players should also know that they are staking real money on a safe gambling platform. This means the operator is licensed and beholden to a regulator for safety standards, as well as certified by the proper organizations that verify those safety measures. For online poker sites, for example, operators should display a certificate of a working random number generator (RNG) that verifies the cards are dealt in a purely random manner.
Operators of online poker sites have a duty to adhere to standards established by regulators, especially with regard to marketing. All advertisements, whether on television or on the sites themselves, must be truthful and transparent about the details of all bonuses and promotions. Operators must also refrain from using advertising tactics that might appeal to children or inappropriately target vulnerable demographics.
All Aspects of Gaming Involved
The responsibility of protecting consumers falls to every entity involved in the gambling industry.
The bulk of accountability falls on the shoulders of the online gambling site operator, which ultimately approves the product it offers to customers. However, the platform provider is also inherent in the process, as are game developers and software companies. Everyone must consider the responsible gaming standards when doing their part in the process.
Meanwhile, the regulator that issues licenses and oversees a particular market must constantly monitor and regularly audit each site. Standards start at the top, and there must be a regime in place to ensure that operators and every other participating entity have standards to which they can adhere.
Every person must also be responsible for the gambling in which they participate. There are many ways to ensure that they are playing on sites that care about them and using products that provide protections for everything from online hacking to gambling addiction.
There are a number of tips for online gaming customers that can help with that task.
- Check for a site’s license, which should be displayed on the home page. Verify that the link works and the license is current and in good standing.
- Look for certificates on a site’s home page that indicate proper encryption and fairness tests have been passed recently.
- Read the site’s responsible gambling page and be aware of all standards and information provided with regard to self-exclusion processes and gambling problem assistance.
- Feel free to ask a customer service representative to provide any information that is not readily available or easy to find on the website.
In addition, there are many things that a gambler can do to stay responsible throughout the entertainment experience. In addition to watching for signs of gambling problems, this advice may also be of assistance:
- Allocate a specific amount of money for gambling entertainment and stay within that limit.
- Establish a time limit for gambling to ensure it remains a recreational activity.
- Refrain from using drugs or alcohol while gambling, as judgment may be impaired.
- Accept the bonuses and promotions as offered without trying to compound those winnings.
- Losing sessions should be cut short and followed by a physical activity to relieve tension.
- Use the self-exclusion tools at the slightest indication of regret over a gambling decision.
- Refrain from gambling when angry or sad.
- Accept that gambling is random, and there is no guarantee that winning follows losing.
- Do not gamble to make money for life’s necessities.
- Talk to a friend about any concerns over gambling activities.
- Do not hesitate to contact an organization for advice with gambling concerns.
Responsible Gambling Resources
There are no charges or commitments required for contacting a gambling-related organization. Anonymity is an option, and information is merely a phone call or email away. Many sites now even offer a live chat function to speak with someone immediately. The representatives will not judge or lecture, but they will listen, answer questions, and offer advice if asked.
Two major organizations are based in the United States:
- National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) ncpgambling.org(800) 522-4700
- National Center for Responsible Gambling (NCRG) ncrg.org(978) 338-6610
The largest organization in Canada is widely recognized:
- Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) responsiblegambling.org(416) 499-9800
There are two major organizations operating out of the UK:
One organization caters to people around the world and has been an option for many decades:
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA) gamblersanonymous.org/ga(626) 960-3500