Responsible Gambling: Knowing When to Stop

Gambling is a fun form of entertainment as long as you know when to quit. Unfortunately, not all players are good at stopping after a reasonable time limit or loss amount. These same gamblers can develop a habit and spiral out of control. How do you avoid this potential problem and know when to stop? We're going to discuss signs when gambling entertainment may be entering addiction. We'll also cover steps you can take to avoid playing out of control.

Signs that You Should Take a Break

You may not be on the path towards gambling addiction. But even if you're not, you may find yourself making poor betting decisions. Here are some factors you should watch for to avoid playing too long.

  • Chasing Losses - Leaving a casino, poker room, or sportsbook a loser is never fun. However, you'll likely end up an even bigger loser when you chase losses. The latter refers to extending your session with the sole purpose of winning back previous losses. Some gamblers may feel that they're "due for a win" if they continue playing. This phenomenon is a problem because the odds don't change just because you've lost. You may even play worse because you've been gambling too long.
  • You're Not in the Right Mind State - Gambling when you're tired, drunk, or angry is definitely not a good idea. Nevertheless, plenty of players make this mistake time and time again. You should avoid casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms when you're not in the best mind state.
  • Playing Games You Don't Know Well - Maybe you're having a great gambling session and want to try something new. Or perhaps you've set out to try a new game or bet going into a session. These scenarios are fine, but you don't want to make bets you don't understand on a whim. For example, you shouldn't look to Pai Gow poker as a last-ditch attempt to recover blackjack losses if you're inexperienced with it.
  • Gambling to Get More Comps - Loyalty rewards should be a cherry on top of your play-not something you actively play for. Unfortunately, some gamblers fall into the trap of playing longer for that free meal or hotel room. Just remember: operators give out comps because they know the average player's loses are greater than loyalty rewards over time.

Signs that You're Developing a Gambling Problem

While the previously discussed actions aren't good, there are even worse signs that indicate problem gambling. The following scenarios suggest that a gambler needs to consider help and possibly quitting altogether.

  • Obsessing Over Gambling - Some players let gaming take over their lives, and they can think about nothing more than getting back to the tables. While gambling can be something you look forward to, it should never be the focal point of your life.
  • Lying about Wins and Losses to Loved Ones - Addicts commonly hide losses to keep people from knowing they have a problem. In their minds, they'll just win the money back the next time out. On the same token, these players will embellish their wins to make it seem like their gambling is paying off.
  • Lying about Wins and Losses to Yourself - Problem gamblers sometimes go beyond just lying to others and will begin fooling themselves. For example, they may convince themselves that they're break-even players when they really lose lots of money. This is a terrible habit because it keeps one from ever giving them self a reality check.
  • Borrowing Money After Losing Sessions - Ideally, you'll have a bankroll and stick with it to avoid losing important money. Sadly, some players treat their rent and grocery money as part of their bankroll. The result ends with asking others to borrow money, usually accompanied by a lame non-gambling excuse.
  • Lose Interest in Previous Hobbies - When gambling takes over, it can make you forget about everything you previously enjoyed. If you find yourself completely uninterested in regular hobbies, then you're spending too much time with gambling.

How to Play Responsibly and Avoid These Issues

You don't have to struggle to be a responsible gambler. The following tips will help you play within reason and have a good time.

  • Manage Your Bankroll - You can reduce instances of gambling until your last dollar through bankroll management. This practice involves defining an amount of money that's only for betting. For example, you might have $1,500 extra to gamble with. We suggest further breaking this amount down into session amounts, such as $150 per session. Upon hitting your session limit, you would quit for that day.
  • Hang Out with Responsible Gamblers - You're more likely to play irresponsibly when gambling with addicts. Therefore, you want to seek out like-minded players who know when to quit. Or better yet, you can hang out with casual gamblers who only place bets once in a while.
  • Learn the Odds and Strategy - Part of chasing losses and other bad habits arises from not knowing the odds. But if you know that the house has a 2.70% edge with European roulette, for example, you can be more realistic about your chances of winning. You gain bonus points by learning strategy and boosting your odds.
  • Meditate - Ever feel an urge to gamble when you shouldn't? Meditation can help you squash this urge and continue on a responsible path. This practice isn't hard either, merely requiring you to close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, and pull your mind back to breathing whenever it wanders.

Online Gambling Sites Are Committed to Responsible Gambling

You don't have to be a responsible player all by yourself. Many online casinos, betting sites, and poker rooms have dedicated themselves to responsible gambling. After all, they count on longevity and sustainability to make money-not problem gamblers who burn out quickly and give the industry a bad reputation.

Many gambling sites feature pages for responsible gambling, where tips, resources, and tools are available. Regarding the latter, here are common aides for playing responsibly:

  • Time limits - Set a time limit on your daily or weekly play.
  • Deposit limits - Minimize how much you can deposit in a day/month.
  • Time outs - Take a brief break from your account and betting activities.
  • Self-exclusion - Take 6 months or longer off from the online gambling site.
  • Permanent ban - Contact customer support and ban yourself for good from a gambling site.

Whether you use the tools above or follow the tips we discussed, the important thing is to practice responsible gambling. In doing so, you should have an entertaining time with gambling and not lose too much money. You'll also avoid the many pitfalls that plague problem gamblers.