On-course bookmakers at the Cheltenham Festival
On-course bookmakers at the Cheltenham Festival

Safer Gambling: Helpful tools and hints to ensure you gamble safely


Betting and gaming is a leisure activity pursued by many which should be fun and above all safe. Here's a guide to help keep it that way.

What is Safer Gambling?

Betting and gaming is a leisure activity pursued by many which should be fun and above all safe.

Safer Gambling means you are having fun, and feel in control of how you play. If your gambling is creating financial stress, anxiety, depression, or affecting your life in a negative way overall, then it may develop into a problem.

Risk versus reward

Gambling is inherently risky: you risk money, in order to try to win more. And given that the odds are in favour of the bookmaker, most customers will, over time, lose money. The key for those people is to ensure they are aware of this reality, and that the money they wager is manageable, and an acceptable amount to lose.

Definitions of acceptability will vary from person to person, according to their own individual outlooks and circumstances. Fundamentally, however, the bettor should acknowledge that all money staked may be lost, and be aware of how much they are comfortable spending on a pastime which should be enjoyable and exciting.

Self-assessment

Every responsible bookmaker should have tools and checkpoints to monitor customers. However, the best place for that to start is on a personal level: how do you feel, how comfortable are you with your gambling habits? Do you actually enjoy it? Is that level of enjoyment in line with not only the money spent on it, but the time and emotional investment, too?

Asking these questions, and being honest with yourself, is the best way to ensure gambling remains safe and appropriate. Be aware that the answers may change as gambling habits change.

Helpful tools

Deposit Limit

You can set a deposit limit with your preferred bookmaker, so that you are always betting within your budget. You can specify a daily, weekly or monthly limit, and once that has been set, you will be presented with a warning when you are trying to deposit more than your limit, preventing you from doing so.

If you want to increase the amount or frequency with which you can deposit, it will not take effect for a defined period, usually the same as the period you wish to update (i.e. daily, weekly or monthly). Decreases in limit are effective immediately.

Loss Limit

Similar to a deposit limit, you can define your maximum for how much you are willing to lose when gambling from your account.

If you increase the amount you are willing to lose, or how often it refreshes, this will also not take effect for a specified period, whereas decreases are applied straight away.

Time Out

If you need to take a break from gambling, you can temporarily block your access to your account for between one and 30 days with your bookmaker.

This means you cannot use any gambling products during this period.

Session Timer

The session timer allows you to limit how long you are spending online or on the App by minutes. You might choose to set a 30-minute maximum session duration, after which the site will log you out automatically, or the App will close.

Reality Checks

This is a less strict version of the session timer, which may help anyone who finds that time and concentration are an issue with their gambling. With reality checks, you can set a reminder to pop up after you have been playing for a certain amount of time – after you’ve been playing for an hour, for example.

You can continue playing if you’re fine with how things are, but it gives you a reminder that prompts you to remove yourself from the situation if you need to.

Self Exclusion

If you’ve decided to stop gambling, self-exclusion is the best option. It means you will no longer be able to place bets on the products you’re excluded from, and is fixed for a defined period, which can vary from weeks, to months, years, or permanent exclusion.

Other hints and tips

Track your bets

Bookmakers should make it easy for you to track your bets, profit and loss. This is the best way to stay fully aware of what gambling is costing you financially, and always serves as a good indicator of how much of your time is dedicated to gambling.

It may also help you to limit losses by understanding which sports, events or markets you have been most successful in, and is a handy security tool, too.

Gamble only when you are thinking clearly

Never bet whilst drunk, tired, angry or agitated. Gambling safely requires a level head.

Never chase losses

One of the oldest and best rules of safe gambling: don’t chase losses. Each bet is placed in isolation, and the outcome should not affect subsequent bets. Chasing losses – i.e. trying to win back money lost – is a clear indicator of a problem, or unsafe gambling.

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