Safe Play: Understanding and Practicing Responsible Gambling

If you have used an Onlinecasinoinfo.eu website in any way, you may be interested in online gambling. There are millions of people who gamble every day on various casino sites, platforms or brick-and-mortar casinos. If you plan on becoming or are one of them, there is nothing wrong with that, but there are a few things you should know from the experts before continuing for your safety. Knowing what responsible gambling means and how it can affect your gaming activity is essential.

The Concept of Gambling at a Glance

Gambling is any activity in which you wager or bet money or other material assets on the uncertain outcome of a random event. This activity assumes the consciousness of risk and hope of gain requires three essential elements: a wager or stake, risk or chance in conditions of randomness, and available prize or payout.

You set your stakes, time, frequency, and playing strategies as a gambler. The rules of each game and the rules of the game’s operator give the prizes or payouts you get in case of a win. The most usual form of gambling is that of playing casino games (roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat, slots), lottery-like games (classical lottery, Powerball, bingo, scratch lottery, etc.), poker and other card games, wheel of fortune, dice games, and any versions of these, or sport and race betting. Physical or online casinos host these games, and the companies producing them in various forms (including software) are the developers.

Online Gambling

Online gambling is a form of gambling in which all parties use the internet and web-based technology. Online gambling runs on web-based platforms called online casinos, where the operators incorporate casino games into their websites. You can play against the casino or other players on these gambling sites. To access them, you will need a device (a computer, cell phone, or tablet), an internet connection, and of course, money.

Gambling in an online casino requires registering an account and depositing money into your virtual wallet. This account registration will give you the option to choose games and place bets, and from here, it works the same as traditional real-life gambling.

The Growing Interest in Gambling

People’s high interest in gambling can be traced back to antiquity. In modern to contemporary times, the gambling phenomenon has grown constantly, reaching its peak in the last three decades. The main reason for that growing interest is that gambling is simultaneously a form of entertainment, a way of winning money, and a recreational or spare-time activity, and it offers specific sensations that are themselves a purpose for experiencing it.

Gamblers’ continuous interest in casinos has led to the development of a solid igaming industry worldwide. This industry includes global casinos, online gambling providers, operators, developers, and facilities that offer wagering games and other gambling activities. Gambling websites and providers of information about online gambling are also part of the gambling industry which is estimated to reach 900 billion dollars by 2027.

Specific laws, regulations, and licensing conditions govern the gambling industry and vary by jurisdiction. Given the magnitude of the phenomenon, experts and policymakers focus on the legal aspects of gambling and its economic, social, ethical, psychological, and cognitive-informative effects on society.

According to scientific studies, some of these effects may be negative, such as the development of problematic gambling, which affects a significant portion of gamblers worldwide. Therefore, besides government policymakers, experts such as sociologists, economists, psychologists, medical doctors, counsellors, instructors, mathematicians, and programmers also deal with gambling according to their expertise.

Understanding Responsible Gambling

The concept of responsible gambling has been developed as a response to the possible adverse effects of gambling in society and pertains to a set of norms, criteria, and advice found by research and experts as having the potential to eliminate or at least ameliorate those undesirable negative effects.

Operators and developers must obey laws and regulations that explicitly state responsible-gambling norms in their jurisdiction. The main goal of these laws is to protect players against fraud or scams, misinformation, unethical business practices, and exposure to age-related risks. Therefore, ensuring the legality of the casino you choose for gambling online should be one of your primary concerns.

Legitimate online casinos operate under the oversight of government regulatory bodies that oversee the industry. These entities issue licenses to operators and actively monitor their activities to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. It is imperative that the presence of these licenses is clearly displayed on the casino’s website. Furthermore, it is important to note that the legality of online gambling varies by country. In some countries, it is outright prohibited, and accessing an online casino in such locations could result in criminal consequences.

All countries have age requirements for gambling. In most of them, you have to be 18, but some require you to be at least 21 years of age before participating in any form of gambling. Online casinos conduct a perfunctory check, but it is up to you to know the laws in your country and follow them.

Responsible gambling is a far more complex notion for players. It provides expert advice, tips, and recommendations to gamblers to avoid or minimise the risks and harms that may occur as a result of their gambling. These risks and harms can include financial ruin, social and family issues, and mental health problems.

The socio-psychological-cognitive aspects of gambling can lead to problematic and even pathological gambling. The role of responsible gambling is to steer the gambler away from these unwanted outcomes and ensure a safe gambling experience.

What is Problem Gambling and How to Avoid It

Problem gambling is disruptive or damaging to individuals or families in terms of finances, emotions, or relationships. It can lead to reduced quality of life, physical illness, difficulties at work, and even criminal activity. It is associated with the risk of gambling addiction and is distinct from drug or alcohol addiction. Pathological gambling occurs when problematic gambling reaches a stage where mental health is severely affected and is diagnosed as an illness with psychiatric and physical effects.

The key to avoiding problematic gambling is to recognise its signs. Psychologists and gambling counsellors address problem gambling, while psychologists, medical doctors, psychiatrists and other addiction specialists address pathological forms of this condition. You don’t need to make an appointment with a clinician, as many expert resources online can help you determine if you have or are about to develop this issue by answering a set of questions.

Gambling-help organisations, gambling clinics, and other private or governmental entities that deal with problem gambling provide expert materials to raise awareness and can keep you on the safe track of gambling from the beginning.

Suppose you identify yourself as a problem gambler at some point. In that case, they can advise you on what to do next to avoid complications and offer practical tools like self-exclusion. These organisations base their advice on scientific research and studies so that you can trust their expertise for both prevention and non-pathological stages of problem gambling. They make this advice publicly available through various programs.

You can find rules, tips, and recommendations on the above-listed websites, where any gambler can read them. There is socio-psychological and cognitive-informative advice, whose essentials are presented in the information provided.

Socio-psychological Advice for Responsible Gambling

This advice category concerns gambling behaviour relative to your individual emotions, habits, resources, and goals.

Don’t gamble when you’re upset or stressed. This association creates harmful conditioned reflexes. Gambling is not a cure for anything and not a way to cope with negative emotions or to escape from reality. Choose another activity instead if this is the case.

To ensure responsible gambling, it’s important to limit your intake of alcohol and/or drugs while gambling, as this combination, increases the risk of addiction. Additionally, it’s essential to set budget and time limits and to stick with these self-imposed restrictions. Many gambling sites offer tools to help you monitor your play.

It’s also important to take frequent breaks, move around, get some fresh air, and have something to eat or drink. This helps to keep your brain from getting used to playing continuously. Additionally, it’s important to only gamble with the money you have and never borrow money or use money intended for necessities. Gambling should also be kept separate from other people you know, and your domestic life like you keep your job.

Finally, it’s important to balance gambling with other recreational activities so that gambling does not consume all of your time and fully absorbs your mind. If you’re no longer having fun, stop playing and follow the goal of gambling for entertainment only. Don’t try to win back what you’ve lost; remember, lost money is not your money anymore. Always start from a zero moment, and don’t look back to fuel a vicious circle.

Responsible Gambling Advice Based on Cognitive Information

This advice category focuses on maintaining a rational attitude towards gambling and understanding personal gambling behaviour. It emphasises the importance of objectively interpreting the information available about gambling.

To effectively follow this advice, it is essential to seek expert information about gambling and acknowledge that gambling is a complex activity with many potential impacts on your life. By reading this page, you have taken the first step in this direction.

Be aware of the potential harm gambling can bring to the financial and health aspects of your life. Don’t view gambling as an effective way to make money, pay bills or debts, achieve a regular income or become wealthy. Understand the rules, payout schedules, and structural characteristics of the games before placing your bets. Failing to do so is like shooting blindly at a target.

Don’t rely on feelings, superstitions, lucky numbers, good luck strategies, or any subjective or irrational beliefs when playing the games. These play no role in the games’ randomness or in predicting their outcomes. Developers base their games of chance on mathematical models that ensure the house’s profit in the long run, assuming that players cannot predict individual or cumulative outcomes in a single play or series of play rounds.

Mathematical Information, Ethics, and Critical Thinking

When developing a game of chance, a company is aware that such a game will run under conditions of uncertainty regarding its outcomes, and the developers have to be sure that the house won’t go bankrupt – or at least the chances of that happening are low enough to be worth the investment. The only scientific tool able to provide such a guarantee is mathematical modelling. There are mathematical models describing that game and the behaviour of its outcomes that will tell the developer – in mathematical terms and numbers – that a specific game design is or is not worth the risk.

These models will also be the operational framework of the mathematician dealing with the creation of that game by telling them (as a result of applications and calculations) how to choose, adjust, or modify the game’s parameters to meet the expected or required conditions.

The game’s rules, number and distribution of its variable elements, and payout schedule – what we usually call a game’s characteristics–are described in mathematical terms and stand as the entry data for the applications using probability and statistical models. These applications yield mathematical information concerning the game’s outcomes in terms of Probability Theory and Statistics, namely probabilities and statistical indicators in the form of statistical means and averages.

For example, in slots, the number of the reels, the distribution and weighting of the symbols on each reel, and the payout associated with each payline will provide the statistical indicators that the company will take as their “certificate of guarantee” that the game will run in their favour, as well as the desired behaviour of the machine (how often it will return money to players, in what proportion, etc.).

The main statistical indicator of a game is the house edge (HE, or house advantage), which should be positive for each possible bet in that game for the house to make a profit over the long run. Therefore, the characteristics of a new game are chosen to ensure a positive house edge.

Importance of Being Aware of the Mathematical Facts of Games and Gambling

The mathematical models provide not only the statistical indicators needed by the developers and the operators of the game but all the mathematical facts and results related to playing that game. In game theory, some games allow what mathematicians call “optimal play”, which is the best possible mathematical strategy to follow for winning that game, even if the uncertainty factor remains and the win is not sure. Hence, optimal strategy (for games such as blackjack, baccarat, or poker) and any objective strategy of playing are based on mathematical criteria related to the game being played.

Therefore, mathematical information is essential for a game to exist and run. Without it, the game would not have been mathematically conceived and would not exist.

This math-indispensability principle entails that responsible gambling should also include awareness of the mathematical facts of games and gambling. Such facts are the parametric configuration of a game, basic probabilities of its outcomes and categories of these results, house edge and other statistical indicators (expected value of a bet and other statistical averages, volatility, etc.). For a good understanding of these mathematical facts, one should also have an adequate interpretation of these notions in real-life gambling.

But not everyone is naturally skilled in math, and returning to school to learn math specifically for gambling is not feasible for most people. However, expert resources are available online, in books, and in courses that explain the mathematics of gambling in layman’s terms.

Game developers and operators only sometimes provide this information for their games, and no laws require them to do so. Furthermore, the parametric configurations of some games, such as slots, are kept secret by the producers.

As a result, mathematical information about games and gambling is not always transparent, easy to understand, and readily available. One must actively seek out this information and then work to understand it with the help of an instructor, using both formal mathematics and the mathematics applied to the specific game.

Why is Gambling Mathematics Crucial for Responsible Gambling?

First, it’s about ethics. Imagine someone asks you to bet you can jump from a high place and land on your feet; of course, it is a necessity or at least an advantage for you to know in advance the height from which you will jump or measure it before you bet, as you might decline the bet or propose another one for a certain measurement and this means decision.

The same principle applies in gambling: betting on an event in whatever game is an incomplete decision if the bettor does not know the probability of that event and other mathematical facts in advance.

Secondly, it is vital to prioritise critical thinking. The mathematical models of a game shape the game and govern its functioning, so it is essential to prioritise mathematical information over non-objective information such as personal gambling experiences, superstitions, or irrational beliefs.

Both math-inclined gamblers and those without a mathematical background should follow these general recommendations for responsible gambling concerning mathematical awareness:

  • Do not avoid mathematical information about games and gambling. It is objective and rigorously obtained information that should be assimilated and used.
  • Use any mathematical information to choose the games you play. Choose those with the lowest house edge (in terms of slots, those with the highest RTP) if other rules do not count toward your betting/playing strategy.
  • Use mathematics to describe your bets (probability of winning, expected value, profit rate) and to organise them, including what concerns bankroll management.
  • Play mathematically optimal, if possible, in games that allow it. Do not trust an optimal strategy to be a winning strategy, as it does not guarantee sure winning. All gambling strategies and systems eventually obey the same laws of probability theory. It is just that they may minimise your loss or maximise your profit.

To comprise these recommendations under the same label would be ‘Play mathematically informed.’

Mathematics will not tell you where the American or European roulette ball will land now or in the future; it cannot make such predictions, nor can physics. Instead, mathematics applied in gambling provides measurements by which we can get informed, optimise our play, and organise our thoughts to play safely and rationally. Gambling mathematics can tell us from an abstract perspective regarding our games:

  • What are the chances
  • What to expect
  • What and when to leave
  • When to go for it
  • How to play
  • Where we are wrong

Gambling Cognitive Distortions: What You Need to Know

  • The Monte Carlo fallacy
  • The conjunction and disjunction fallacy
  • Misunderstanding of the statistical independence and statistical average
  • Subjective estimations of probabilities
  • The illusion of control
  • Misunderstanding of the gambling language

Gambling cognitive distortions are faulty thinking, perception or interpretation in the psychological form of misconceptions, misunderstandings, reasoning fallacies, biases, false or irrational beliefs, or illusions, alone or mixed. Although their main nature is cognitive-psychological, most of them are mathematically related. 

The primary gambling cognitive distortions include general misconceptions of the definition and meaning of randomness, probability, statistical independence, and statistical average.

The Monte Carlo Fallacy is a common misconception and bias that arises from misunderstanding the concept of randomness and statistical independence. This fallacy occurs when individuals assume that a sequence of random events will have a certain pattern or outcome, despite the fact that each event is independent and has an equal chance of occurring. This can lead to faulty predictions and incorrect reasoning about probability.

The Conjunction Fallacy, Disjunction Fallacy, and the Near-Miss Effect are all examples of reasoning fallacies and misconceptions that involve misrepresentation of the outcome in the sample space, faulty prediction, and subjective estimation of probabilities.

The Conjunction Fallacy is the incorrect reasoning about the probability of events conjunction, the Disjunction Fallacy is incorrect reasoning about the probability of events disjunction, and the Near-Miss Effect is the tendency to overestimate the probability of an event happening due to a close call or near miss. These fallacies can lead to irrational beliefs and decision making.

Subjective estimations of probability are another common fallacies that can affect individuals’ reasoning about likelihood. Such fallacies occur when individuals under or overestimate the likelihood of an event, without using mathematical methods and being influenced by biases.

The Illusion of Control is an irrational belief based on the illusion that the outcomes of a game can be controlled physically by the player or by their strategies of playing.

Misunderstanding Gambling Language is another common misconception that arises from semantic conflicts in a mixed language with mathematical and non-mathematical terms, leading to confusion about the true probability of an event.

Understanding and Overcoming Risk Factors for Problematic Behavior

An expert counsellor typically intervenes to correct cognitive distortions, which are complex and common among gamblers of all levels of experience and education. Gambling and games of chance can naturally trigger and install these distortions in our cognitive system, and I may also be affected by them in certain gaming situations. Problem-gambling researchers recognise these distortions as risk factors for problematic gambling behaviour, but it’s important to note that they should not be viewed as a disease. Instead, they deserve attention to be corrected.

A first step in this process is to identify them when they occur, but for that, you need first to read as much as possible about them from expert sources. Then, a cognitive requirement is understanding the mathematical nature of such distortions and the relationships between the mathematical concepts that underlie them and the real life of gambling.

Regarding cognitive gambling distortions, as they require extensive self-study, the only general recommendation I make is to resist the impulse of any estimation, decision, or prediction which comes to you too easily, as a reflex or flash-back memory and is not the result of mathematical or critical thinking. Therefore, once you read some information about these cognitive distortions, it’s important to self-signal them during your gambling activity when occurring and restrain your original thought or belief from thinking twice.

Conclusion

Responsible gambling encompasses all aspects, including social, economic, ethical, psychological, cognitive, and mathematical elements. Gambling is a very complex phenomenon, and as a responsible gambler, it is crucial to understand the complexity of gambling. This approach means seeking expert advice, following their guidance, and seeking help.

Before participating in any form of gambling, be it short-term, medium-term, or long-term, educating yourself on responsible gambling and its goals and tools is essential.

A key aspect of responsible gambling is double informing – not only listening to what experts say about gambling but also taking the time to delve deeper into this knowledge. Therefore, I advise any gambler to dedicate time to reading expert advice. If one dedicates hours to playing a gambling game, one should also reserve the same amount of time to reading about that game, and it is best to do so before engaging in real money play. This investment of time in reading is the true gain, not the hypothetical profit that may be lost during those hours without playing.

Author: Catalin Barboianu

Catalin Barboianu (PhD) is a game mathematician and problem-gambling researcher, author of the book “Understanding Your Game: A Mathematician’s Advice for Rational and Safe Gambling”.

Safe Play Tips and Advice from Experienced Casino Players

Hey, firstly, a quick introduction, my name is Jonathan, and I am an online casino player from the United Kingdom. My first step into the online casino universe was back in 2003. I began gambling in general as far back as 1991 when I was not far off my 20th birthday, and this is where my story begins…

My experiences began with land-based fruit machines in real-world casinos. A friend in my local area introduced them to me, asking me one day over a pint whether I wanted to “learn how to make a raise”, his term for gaining the knowledge of how to play fruit machines properly, the cheats, the tips, when to play them, when to leave them and so on, rather than throw coins into the slot and hope for the best.

Back then, the jackpots were minor, and the £4.80 token top prizes had not long been released. I remember commenting to my advisor that I saw little point in investing in 20p spins where the most I could win was less than £5! My learning path began here, and it was fun at the outset, but sadly the problems started here, too.

During one of our initial trips to one of the town’s numerous amusement arcades, I quickly learnt that the top prize advertised on offer was far from accurate and that these fruit machines could deliver massive winning streaks, offering £50, £60, maybe even higher winning amounts if we played and caught them at the right time. Of course, ironically, my first handful of experiences were very lucky. They were profitable, and as I was still young, naïve and inexperienced, I started to think I was on to a very good thing. Since I was fresh out of college and seeking employment, I began to look at it as possibly being a temporary source of guaranteed income until I got a job offer.

Sadly my positivity and fortune did not last too long, and the reality soon dawned on me that I would not win every visit to town. Indeed far from it, the losing streaks and dead money-gobbling machines soon became apparent. It took me a while to realise, but after six months or so of these visits to the arcade, I had to step back and admit I had become addicted to the machines.

Albeit a very brief phase, I went through sorrowful times where I was selling my possessions to get a playing pot to play the fruit machines, thinking if I won, I could get my items back. This recovery did not happen, and when I won, all I thought was, there’s some cash to play tomorrow. I did have about £150 saved in a “spare change bottle”, which back then was a decent amount. Unsurprisingly, this quickly disappeared in the machines, also.

Shortly after I had sold my last thing of value, I was lying in bed one night, really miserable, really sad and also with a high degree of anger towards my so-called “friend” – why had I let him get me into these machines, why had he caused my addiction, why had he made me sell all my stuff, without for a moment taking any responsibility for my own actions and feeling deep remorse, regret and somewhat helpless.

At this point, I decided that action was required. I desperately needed to do something about it. Still, being realistic and honest with myself, I would be unable to stop or quit altogether. Nope, I needed to work out a technique to slow down and control what I was doing and apply thought and planning to go about this.

Where can I start? I thought the most straightforward answer was avoiding going to town, but I knew that would not work; I’d already said to myself that I would not simply quit, too addicted, so this is where I began to take control of the situation and apply my own responsible gambling techniques and manage my gambling and stop it consuming me before it was too late!

Back then, there needed to be more support to help players out of control or in over their heads. The only option was asking the arcade staff to ban you from their shop. This approach was pointless as the machines were in multiple arcades, cafes, bars and pubs, the train station, everywhere!

My initial technique was a straightforward one but, surprisingly, worked well. My first thoughts were as simple as “You can only lose what you have in your pocket”, so from there on in, I started only taking out with me what I was willing to lose if we were going out for drinks that night, I would ‘force’ myself to make an extra trip home after we had left town to fetch my drinking money rather than have it on me, where we all know if things did not go well, it would end up in the fruit machines. On top of this, when we did go to the arcades, I did not take any bank cards or other ways of accessing money with me, only £10 – £20 to play and no more, leaving the bulk of my cash safely at home.

Not long after this, I found employment which helped a lot as I quickly adopted the attitude that “No way are those bloody machines having my hard-earned dosh!”, obviously working also took away most of my previously abundant spare time, which also helped a lot.

Having gone through this self-inflicted ordeal when I began playing online in 2003, I thought some good had come of it. The experience placed me in a much stronger position to not make the same mistake again and control my gambling from the start.

I am proud to share that the measures I set in place back then are more or less still doing their job and working well to this day. These measures may not sound ideal, but they do work. When wages and other income hit my bank account, firstly, I withdraw cash, leaving only money to cover bills and direct debits, knowing and sticking to the fact that this cannot be used as it has a purpose and is theoretically already spent. I am confident that had I left it in a bank account, I still would not go gambling crazy and use it, but I remove it to avoid it happening in case that “mad moment” were to happen one day.

More recently, I transfer my gambling budget into a Skrill e-wallet. This budget for gambling is roughly 20% of my disposable income (leftovers once every bill is paid), this does attract some small fees, but I don’t mind as I look at it as saving me money. It stops me from going mad and also, at the same time, keeps my bank statement free of casino names and gambling transactions.

Some may feel that this technique is far from foolproof. It does work for me and, apart from a very, very rare wobble, has been successful for years now. Of course, some may argue that once I’ve emptied my bank into cash in the house, it’s simple to go and grab a pre-payment voucher from the shops to gamble.

There is no argument with that viewpoint; however, it takes a lot more effort and motivation to get in the car, drive to get the voucher and drive back (especially on dark, cold nights) than making a simple debit card deposit. The thought enters my head from time to time, but it’s ultra-rare. I recognise it, and usually, within 20 minutes or so, the urge has passed, and I’m doing something else. As a result, in these instances, I also feel much better the following day, knowing I did not give into temptation and have extra cash I did not lose.

In closing, there’s one last piece of important advice. Online players should not be afraid of the withdraw button, even if it is a small amount. A quick example is if you start with 20, get a lucky start, double to 40, and take out your original deposit. The worst case at that point is you will break even and still have your original 20 to try online casino games again at another time.

Contributor: Jonathan M

Jonothan is a seasoned online casino player with over 20 years of experience. Known as Jono777, he is a highly active and well-respected member of the industry-leading Casinomeister forum. Jonothan has contributed to over 16,200 messages during his time as a forum member. His extensive field experience has made him a valuable source of expertise for new players seeking advice, regularly providing them with high-value tips on navigating the online casino landscape.