Safety at online casinos goes beyond keeping your data and funds secure. Those are essential to a fulfilling gaming experience, but preventing gambling addiction is equally important. Fortunately, licensed gaming sites play active roles in preventing gambling disorders, besides engaging the services of a mental health professional.
Some casinos identify high-risk individuals, like government employees or those with ongoing financial problems. They do this through the “know your customer” (KYC) program, often absent on sites that keep gamblers anonymous. Ultimately, you will be advised to seek out proper addiction treatment if the preventive features on the site aren’t enough.
Gambling online poses many threats, including gambling addictions, loss of money, identity theft, ruining important relationships, depression, etc. We’ll review the active steps online casinos take to prevent these and the treatment options available for compulsive gambling. With that in mind, let’s start with casino addiction and how it causes problem gambling.
Playing casino games should be fun and done mostly for leisure. The risk of losing money is always there, even for experienced players. Hence, it should never be viewed as a source of income.
Gambling addiction can also be referred to as a gambling disorder or compulsive gambling. It is a condition where a player loses control and engages in online betting compulsively. This causes clinical stress that results in anxiety, depression, relationship problems with family members, and other mental health issues.
Spending time chasing losses should never be part of your routine gaming sessions. The brain’s reward system can trick us into pursuing losses, especially when we come close to landing a winning bet. Nevertheless, chasing lost money with the expectation of a larger win is often among the first warning signs of problem gambling.
The following are common symptoms of gambling addiction from reputable bodies, including the American Psychiatric Association:
- Compulsive visits to online casinos and placing bets not for fun
- Deep anxiety when playing games
- Uncontrollable urge to increase the bet size
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to regulate, reduce, or stop online gambling
- Neglecting bills and other essential expenses to fund online gambling sessions
- Selling personal possessions for betting
- Neglecting family needs for betting
- Accumulating debt to fund online bets and lying about it
- Engaging in illegal activities to pay off a gambling debt or fund more betting sessions
These symptoms often begin small, growing over time into psychological disorders. Many problem gamblers blur the lines when faced with negative consequences. Soon, it becomes challenging to stop gambling, even after hitting substantial wins.
Fortunately, online casinos have tools to stop gambling addiction. For new punters, these tools efficiently reduce the effects on their mental health. On the other hand, compulsive gamblers require professional treatment.
Dangers of gambling addiction
Compulsive gambling can destroy lives when left unchecked. It poses the following dangers to you and the society:
- Ruined relationships with family and friends
- Increased debt and loss of property to repay the debt
- Low credit score because of excessive borrowing and defaulted repayments
- Loss of life through suicide
- Anxiety and depression result in low performance at work
- Alcohol addiction
Gambling problems are often linked to alcohol and drug abuse. That increases the risk of death, often resulting in alienation from family members and friends. Also, the recovery journey becomes more challenging as you deal with substance abuse and gambling addiction.
Ways casinos prevent gambling addiction
Compulsive gambling can arise from other underlying problems, like neglect by family and friends. It is easy for those who feel lonely and unaccepted in life to fall into this addiction. The law requires online casinos to provide tools to prevent gambling addiction.
While the casino might monitor your betting activity, most of the tools for preventing gambling harm are self-activated. These tools include the following:
- Deposit limit: This setting limits how much you can deposit into the casino. It can be implemented on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. We often recommend this tool to new players to keep them on track and budget.
- Session limits: You can set how long you want to spend on casino games or the entire gaming session. It is very effective for new players to play only during leisure hours and not sacrifice other things for betting. If you struggle to play within a defined time, this setting will automatically log you out of the casino when it’s time.
- Timeouts: This setting is similar to session limits. However, it logs you out of games instead of the entire site. You can still resume playing, but only when the timeout elapses.
- Win and loss limits: Harmful gambling often begins with chasing losses or going in for bigger wins without considering the risk. Win-and-loss limits prevent you from losing more gambling money. Once those levels are reached, the casino stops the game or session.
- Self-exclusion: This tool comes in when you want to stop gambling for a specific period. We recommend using it when you start losing interest in other activities and notice other behavioral addictions. The casino can shut you out for days, weeks, or months, but your account will remain until you log in.
This approach is not limited to online casinos, as other external gambling prevention and treatment bodies offer it. Self-assessments help you determine if you are at risk of gambling addiction. It can also help people addicted to betting.
Self-assessments are reflective and objective questions to help players assess their mental health. It can quickly reveal gambling addictions. Some of the questions common in self-assessments include the following:
- How often do you play real money games in a day or week?
- Have you deposited more money for a bet than you can afford?
- Do you feel the need to place larger bets?
- Has someone asked you to check on your gambling problem?
- Are you feeling guilty for playing?
- Do you gamble to escape problems in life?
Some casinos offer self-assessment tests to help you identify gambling addiction quickly. Similarly, independent bodies like the UCLA Gambling Studies Program and the Responsible Gambling Council provide these tests.
We recommend taking these tests from time to time. That will help you identify problem gambling at its early stage.
Tips to prevent problem gambling
The following are our recommendations for preventing compulsive gambling:
- Use the responsible gambling tools the casino provides. These include win and loss limits, session limits, time-outs, deposit limits, etc.
- Contact customer support when you notice a gambling problem
- Contact independent bodies like the National Council on Problem Gambling
- Meet with a trained counselor
- Go for financial counseling
- Join support groups. A prominent one is Gamblers Anonymous (GA).
- Visit a healthcare professional for testing using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This can also identify bipolar disorder and many factors that influence problem gambling. Then, you can undergo professional gambling addiction treatment.
These services are often free and provided independently from the government. Also, the bodies might refer you to the closest support group. Online casinos will have the contact information of one or two bodies for gambling problems on their websites or apps.
Data and fund security
Compulsive gambling is one of the things to look out for when playing online games. Casinos will help you avoid becoming a gambling addict with responsible gaming tools and helplines. The other things to look out for are data and money security.
Money is needed to place real-money games in online games. You can’t bet from your bank account or online wallet. Instead, you must transfer the money to your casino account.
Once in the casino, your money is exposed to theft. Hence, you need sufficient security to keep it there. The same applies to your details when registering with a new site.
Online casinos have various ways of keeping your money and identity safe. These include:
- 2-step verification: This security measure is applied on your end. It offers extra login security beyond your password and username. You can set it to send the verification code to your mobile or email, and the service is free.
- SSL encryption: Casinos use SSL encryption to protect data exchange between you and the website servers. Your messages and registration details are encrypted. The same applies to your banking details.
- Offline storage: Some casinos keep player funds in physical bank accounts. That way, they embrace bank-level security for your funds while you play with the online credits.
- Firewalls: Online casinos often have physical servers to store player data. Firewalls are used to prevent unauthorized remote access.
- Limited access: Casinos can designate which staff members can access their server rooms. This limited access improves security and makes it easy to trace when there is a breach.
- Breach protocols: Industry-standard breach protocols are implemented when a data breach occurs. This improves security.
Choosing a casino for safety and effective compulsive gambling prevention
Casinos have varying security features and ways to prevent compulsive gambling. It is up to you to review the sites and decide which one offers the best value within your budget. Here are a few things to consider when selecting your online casino:
- The SSL encryption version (128-bit or 256-bit)
- The firewall protocol used
- Data compliance with regulatory bodies like PCI DSS
- Data breach protocols
- Responsible gaming tools to prevent compulsive gambling
- Helplines for players with a gambling problem
- Efficient and responsive customer support
- Availability of free games to test the lobby
Guarding against a gambling problem or security breach provides a foundation for enjoying gaming sessions. Nevertheless, consider the casino’s license and endorsements from third-party testing bodies. These often point to a casino committed to eliminating any gambling problem and providing a secure gaming platform.
Pay your first deposit only after confirming the above details. Take control of your gaming sessions by engaging in responsible gaming tools. Excessive betting ruins lives, but you are not alone in the fight.
We hope you never develop an addiction to online casinos to the point of compulsive gaming. Fortunately, these sites provide tools to protect you. They include session limits, deposit limits, win and loss thresholds, timeouts, etc.
Gamble for fun and never approach it as a means of income. Play with money you can afford to lose. Stick to your budget and set win-and-loss limits to maintain the lead in your life.
Frequently asked questions
How can problem gamblers get help?
They can contact the casino’s customer support. Alternatively, they can contact the helplines for responsible gambling.
How do I recognize a gambling problem?
You can take a self-assessment test. This test is available at online casinos and independent bodies for preventing and treating gambling addiction.
Should I keep my gambling addiction from my family?
Informing your family and seeking help is best. However, you can seek help from a professional counselor before telling them.