Gambling is a form of entertainment which you pay for. This means that you are handing over money for something which should be fun, and which will last for a limited amount of time – a little like buying a concert ticket.
The difference between gambling and any other form of entertainment is that you are playing games of chance for money. Now this could mean that you walk away with more money than you started with, or some other kind of prize – great!
But if you start with that as your goal, you will likely be disappointed time and time again. If you were assured of a prize every time, you wouldn’t be gambling, you’d simply be purchasing a product or service. Chance is what makes gambling fun, but it is also what makes it a risk.
When we talk about responsible gambling behaviour, we’re talking about being able to gamble without putting yourself or others at risk. This boils down to understanding what the risks are, with any form of gambling, and being able to make an informed choice about whether you participate, and if you do, how much you can afford to lose.
Gambling safely is about treating the experience as a fun activity or a social event, not as an investment or a way to make money – gambling is not the answer to financial problems, and is not a cure-all if you are feeling low, stressed or frustrated. In fact, if you feel this way when you start to gamble it will more than likely make you feel worse!
Make sure you understand the odds of the game you are playing, and what the rules are, otherwise any choice you make is not informed. Accept that losing is just as much a part of gambling as winning – crucially, it is your decision to stake money or goods on gambling games, whether you win or lose.
Know your limits, and stick to them. That may sound easy, but some people lose sight of this. If you know how much money, and how much time, you have to spend – and you let other people know this too – it can help you to walk away more easily. Taking regular time out while gambling can help as well, giving yourself a reality check and totaling how much you have spent already.
The more we talk about responsible gambling behaviour, and the more we help others to understand the risks of taking part in any type of gambling, the better we can safeguard each other and keep gambling a fun activity which doesn’t impact negatively on our lives.
If we don’t talk about responsible gambling behaviour, and on the flip-side what is described as problem gambling, we can’t help one another to stay safe.
Chasing your losses – thinking just one more bet will fix everything and bring back all the money you have lost – is one sign that gambling is becoming an issue for someone.
Putting gambling before other people and activities in your life is a signal that you are not gambling safely. There is help available to help you stay in control, or quit completely if that is what you would prefer. If you need support, GamCare are here for you, and you can also access self-exclusion here.
Remember, gambling is a regulated activity for a reason. Sure, it can be fun, but no form of gambling is risk free. If it was, it wouldn’t be called gambling!
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