Gambling can be a fun activity and a good source of entertainment for adults, but it can also be very damaging because of its addictive nature.
Some people who gamble occasionally in casino games do no real harm, except for the small amounts of money they have most likely lost over time, while others become truly addicted to gambling, putting not only their money and other possessions at risk, but also their lives and the lives of those around them.
Problem gambling addiction is a difficult enemy to beat once it develops, which is exactly why it is best to avoid it in the first place. We’ve created this article to list a number of tips that, if followed, will help gamblers gamble safely and minimize the risk of becoming addicted. We hope they will also help you stay safe.
Below are our tips for safe gambling. Clicking on any one of them will take you to the part of this article where you will find more information about the selected tip.
Understand that gambling is not a way to make money!!!
Many people continue to gamble in order to make money and get rich, or at least get out of their financial difficulties. This is a very dangerous state of mind, because the vision of a big win can get you hooked on gambling and make it easier for you to become addicted to it.
Worse still, the big, “surefire”, life-changing windfall never happens in most cases, and people who want to make money from gambling are just digging deeper holes for themselves.
If you want to gamble safely and minimize the possibility of developing a gambling problem, you need to get rid of this mindset as quickly as possible. Gambling is NOT a way to make money. All casino games are organized in a way that mathematically favors the casino, which means that the odds are always against the players.
While it is possible to beat the odds in the short term by being lucky, it is impossible to continue to be lucky forever. And what is even worse is that the desire to win is not always satisfied by a nice one-time win, so many lucky winners come back for more, losing everything they won before and even more.
Don’t make the mistake of gambling in order to win money, get rich and/or solve all your financial difficulties. You will only get into trouble if you gamble for that purpose.
Think of gambling as a form of entertainment that costs something
Instead of gambling to make money, you should consider gambling as a form of entertainment. As with most types of entertainment, you have to pay for it.
When you go to see a movie, attend an event or enjoy a night out, you usually pay for your entertainment by buying tickets, meals, drinks, etc. When it comes to gambling, you pay for your entertainment by playing disadvantaged games, while land-based or online casinos run a profitable business that provides you with entertainment.
Of course, money will always be part of the picture, and the thrill that comes with the opportunity to win money is an inseparable part of it. It also adds to the value of the entertainment. While some people enjoy playing free casino games (for example, our section on free games), one can assume that most people enjoy them more when money is at stake.
As mentioned above, money should not be the main reason you play, even if it adds to the entertainment value. If you want to gamble, do it because you enjoy the games and the thrill, but don’t do it because you want to make money. If you are doing it for money, it is probably best to stop gambling altogether.
Play only with money you can afford to lose
One of the most likely consequences of gambling addiction is the onset of severe financial difficulties. Problem gamblers often borrow money to gamble, and do everything they can to get more money to gamble.
It is also quite common for problem gamblers to cut back on other expenses just to get more money to gamble. This often starts with things that are unnecessary and/or luxurious, but once a full-fledged addiction develops, it is common to start sacrificing necessities such as food, shelter, etc.
To stay safe, it is important that you set a budget and allow yourself to gamble only with money you can afford to lose, without sacrificing yourself, your family, your purchases, your savings and anything else you need money for.
If you find yourself spending more than you have budgeted for gambling-related activities or cutting back on other gambling expenses, it is likely that you have already developed a problem gambling habit. If this is the case, we suggest that you read our articles on diagnosing problem gambling and how to overcome it.
Don’t run after your losses
Chasing losses, i.e. trying to win back the money you lost, is one of the surest ways to lose everything you have. It often turns short sessions of gambling, just for fun, into large financial losses, which can lead to a gambling addiction.
It’s true that losing money is not a good feeling, and it’s perfectly natural to want to win it back. However, it is important to have the right mindset when gambling, which brings us back to what has already been said in this article: don’t expect to win money, and remember to think of gambling as a form of entertainment that costs something.
If you expect to lose, which you should really do when you play casino games, you won’t be tempted to chase your losses because you expected to lose money in the first place.
Wanting to win back money you’ve already lost is a sure way to dig yourself a deep hole from which it can be very difficult (if not impossible) to escape. You are playing at a disadvantage, which means that it is more likely that you will continue to lose money rather than win it back. Don’t make the same mistake that many other people have already made. Set a budget and stop gambling as soon as you reach it.
Don’t play with borrowed money!!!
Speaking of common mistakes related to money and gambling, it is important to never gamble with borrowed money. We’ve already mentioned that you should only gamble with money you can afford to lose, and the fact that you have to borrow money to gamble is a clear sign that you can’t really afford to lose it, even if you think you can.
Note: Of course, context is important here. There is a difference between taking out a loan so that you can gamble before your next paycheck comes in and simply borrowing €20 from your close friend because there is no ATM nearby (i.e., you have the money but no cash). Although we don’t approve of any of these practices, we refer mostly to situations closer to the first example.
Perhaps the most common situation is to borrow money to gamble before the next paycheque arrives, with the intention of paying off the debt just after payday. While this may seem harmless, it is often the opposite, for a variety of reasons:
The fact that you have to borrow money to gamble is a sign that you don’t have any extra money that you can spend on gambling.
Negligently borrowing money can create a dangerous financial situation and basically ruin a person’s life.
You may get into trouble with loan sharks or dangerous people in general, which can be a danger in itself.
Gambling with borrowed money can be stressful for some people, which can put your health at risk, lead you to make bad decisions and get you into even more trouble.
And the dangers don’t stop there. Whether or not you think you have everything under control, it’s never a good idea to borrow money to gamble. Don’t do it!
Keep track of the time and money you spend gambling
It is very easy to lose track of time when playing. Especially with modern games, it can be a very interesting activity that entertains your brain, which can make time go by faster than usual. For example, you may feel like you’ve only been playing for 30 minutes, only to discover that it’s actually been two hours since you started.
The same goes for money. It is quite common to remember wins more clearly than losses, creating a skewed overall picture of all the money you have lost through gambling over the years. We are convinced that many regular gamblers would be shocked if they found out how much money they have lost in their lifetime.
That’s why it’s important to keep track of how much time and money you spend gambling. Always keep track of how long you gamble. Write down the time you start gambling and, ideally, set up a reality check that will keep you informed about how long your session lasts.
In many online casinos, reality checks contain information about money lost or won during the current session, which can be very useful. However, they only tell you how much money you have lost during a session. In order to get an overview of your gambling spending, you will most likely need to keep track of it yourself, as few casinos display long-term statistics for players.
Limit your gambling expenses
You can go beyond simply tracking the time and money you spend gambling by setting limits at the casino of your choice. Online casinos offer several types of limits, and while not all of them are available at every gaming establishment, you should be able to find at least some of them.
To this end, we suggest you use the following combinations of these limits:
Deposit or Loss Limits: Depending on the combination you use, these allow you to deposit or lose only a certain amount of money over a predetermined period of time.
Session Length Limits: These allow you to gamble only for a certain amount of time over a predetermined period of time.
By combining these two types of limits, you will only be allowed to spend a limited amount of money and time gambling. However, this is certainly not a foolproof solution. These limits only work in the casino in which you set them, making them easy to circumvent if you want to play more. That’s why you shouldn’t rely solely on them to control your gambling habits.
Use the self-exclusion options whenever you deem it necessary
If the above limits are not enough for you and you want to stop gambling completely (at least for a while), try self-exclusion. This option is offered by almost all online casinos and allows you to block yourself for periods ranging from a few hours to several years.
After doing this, you will not be allowed to play until the end of the chosen period. That said, some casinos may lift your self-exclusion when you ask them to do so, but not instantly, but after a cooling-off period.
As with the limits mentioned above, the self-exclusion options offered by casinos apply only to this casino. You can easily get around them by playing at another casino. To overcome this complication, you can either self-exclude yourself from all online casinos (which is extremely impractical and almost impossible), or use applications that block gambling worldwide.
Regardless of the quality of the tool or application, keep in mind that these self-limiting and self-exclusion options are not a stand-alone solution for safe gambling. They can be effective, but a person struggling with gambling can almost always find a way around them. Keep this in mind, and look for other solutions if you feel your gambling is getting out of control.
Do not combine gambling with alcohol or drugs!!!
It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that gambling while drunk or on drugs is never a good idea. When you are under the influence of any substance, your judgment is clouded and you are unable to make good decisions.
Bad decisions can cost you more money than if you were sober, but that’s not all. You also need to use good judgment to keep gambling from getting out of control. Gambling under the influence can lead to a one-time loss, but it can also lead to a broader addiction to gambling.
Alcohol and drugs are never a good idea, but if you start gambling on top of it, many serious problems can occur. You may want to gamble every time you go out with your friends and drink a few beers, and the mental link between gambling and drugs or alcohol is rarely positive.
If you feel like gambling, do it with a clear mind.
Don’t gamble when you are depressed, upset or anxious, and don’t gamble to escape other problems!
Negative mental conditions, such as depression, upset or anxiety, usually make you weaker mentally and often also physically. It’s hard to keep a clear head, which is at least part of the reason why you shouldn’t gamble when you’re in a bad frame of mind.
First of all, you’re prone to making bad decisions, just as when you gamble while drunk or under the influence of drugs, but that’s not all. Negative feelings or mood disorders can cause huge damage in themselves, so you need to deal with them. Trying to suppress them through gambling won’t lead to anything positive, and your mental health will probably only get worse.
Also, gambling to escape from other problems usually ends up creating more problems than it did at first. Gambling can be fun if it’s done safely, but remember that gambling is never a good solution to your problems, nor is it a way to escape from them.
Balance gambling with other activities
Gambling too much can lead to a gambling problem. It can also be a sign that you are already a problem gambler and that you should do something about it, because problem gamblers tend to choose gambling over other activities or even people in their lives. They begin to neglect their hobbies, work or even family, all in favour of gambling, which has become too important for them to spend time on anything else.
If you want to gamble safely, you have to do other things too. It’s important that your life isn’t just about gambling. Put enough effort into your work, spend time with your family, and also set aside time for recreation and leisure activities.
If you find this difficult to do and feel that gambling is becoming a predominant factor in your life, it’s time to do something about it. You can start by reading our article on how to overcome problem gambling.
Pay attention to the symptoms of gambling addiction.
As with most psychological and biological problems that people face, it’s usually easier to overcome a gambling problem if you notice it early on. If you realize that you are (or have been) addicted to gambling, you can take steps to overcome it before it does further damage to your life and the lives of those around you.
That’s why it’s important to be constantly aware of the signs and symptoms of problem gambling. Read our article on this topic and learn more about what a gambling addiction looks like. You can then monitor your gambling and take action as soon as you notice that something is wrong.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and ask for help
It’s never easy to get rid of a gambling addiction once it’s developed, but it’s often beneficial to turn to a family member or friend you can trust, or even a professional. It’s almost always better to talk to someone than to keep everything to yourself, because it makes it easier to deal with the situation as a whole.
That’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help when you have the slightest suspicion that your gambling might be a problem. It’s better to be sure than sorry, especially if the potential problems are as critical as those of problem gambling.
We’ve listed several potential sources of help you can turn to in our article on overcoming problem gambling. Be sure to check out these sources and find the alternative that’s best for you, if you think it might be of benefit to you. To find specific help centers, helplines, therapists or rehabilitation centers available in your country, use our list of problem gambling help centers.
Play only in reliable casinos
Last but not least, safe gambling is not just about gambling responsibly and avoiding addiction. To play truly safe gambling, you must also choose a fair and reliable casino.
You can be a perfectly responsible gambler who plays just for fun, controls his spending and makes sure that everything is done correctly, but if you choose a bad online casino that will try to screw you at all costs, nothing will help you if you manage to win big and want to cash out your winnings.
To stay safe at online casinos, be especially careful when making a selection, read reviews and take note of complaints from other players to see how the casino handles them. Also check out our Fair Gaming Code to learn about the problematic situations that often occur between players and casinos, to understand how to do everything correctly and avoid violating the casino’s terms and conditions or any other applicable rules.
Above all, don’t forget to follow the advice in this article. Problem gambling is something that can completely destroy your life and the lives of everyone around you, so be sure to gamble safely and responsibly, and seek help whenever you feel something is wrong.