Sunday, April 21, 2024

Striking a Balance: Responsible Gaming for Financial Wellness and Entertainment

Gambling is a popular form of entertainment and it is hard to beat the thrill that comes with a big win. The UK has a significant gambling culture, with the National Lottery, casinos and sports betting being especially popular examples. However, you also need to be aware of the financial risk involved. It is surprisingly easy to lose the balance between entertainment and financial wellness, resulting in risky gambling or problem gambling.

So how can this balance be maintained and why is the concept of responsible gambling so important?

The Gambling Market and Risk

The United Kingdom has one of the largest betting markets in the world. According to government statistics, the industry generated a profit of £14.2 billion in 2020. More than half of the adult population in the UK engages in some form of gambling and the prevalence of online gambling has increased significantly since 2012.[1]

Additionally, online gamblers have access to global markets. It is relatively easy to search online for sports betting in US dollars, or the best online casino in NZ dollars and find viable options. This makes it easy to access betting markets covering a huge variety of events, as well as online casinos offering almost any game you can think of.

While the National Lottery remains the number one gambling activity in the country, online gambling is becoming ever more popular and its offerings are extremely varied. Options for gamblers include sports and live event betting, as well as casino games, with the latter seeing a rise in interest in recent times.

In fact, online slots, including WowPot Slots games, are currently experiencing three percent year-on-year growth.

Yet, it is important to understand some of the risks associated with gambling. The aforementioned UK Government study found that 3.8 percent of the adult population in the UK are gambling at elevated risk, meaning they experience negative consequences, while 0.5 percent reached the threshold to be considered problem gamblers or addicts.[2]

Understanding Problem Gambling

So what does problem gambling actually mean, what are the signs that you may have a problem and what are the potential consequences? The NHS defines problem gambling as “gambling that is disruptive or damaging to you or your family, or interferes with your daily life,”[3] while the Gambling Commission defines problem gamblers as those who “gamble with negative consequences and a possible loss of control”.[4]

Problem gambling is a term that includes people who are addicted to gambling, but also people who are taking risks or making decisions that have serious negative consequences for themselves or the people around them.

The most obvious negative consequence of problem gambling is financial hardship. Many problem gamblers fall into a cycle where they place bets, lose and then chase their losses, resulting in the losses stacking up quickly. This cycle can be difficult to break out of, as people place bets with longer odds to try and make up for larger losses.

Naturally, this can then lead to relationship problems and mental health issues for everyone involved. In severe cases, it can cause relationships to break down and families to break apart. Moreover, 63 percent of those treated for a gambling disorder in the UK are in debt, with most having debts in excess of £5,000.[5]

The Value of Responsible Gambling

When people find the right balance between entertainment and financial wellness, gambling has the potential to deliver several benefits. For individuals, it serves as a great form of entertainment, with the potential for financial gain along the way. Many people find that it enhances their enjoyment of sports and other live events too.

Crucially, the potential benefits associated with responsible gambling also extend to wider society. For instance, the gambling sector in the UK contributed more than £3 billion in taxes in 2019.[6] This means the industry provides a large amount of tax revenue that is then spent on essential services and development projects. Many companies operating within the industry also have a long history of charitable donations.

Meanwhile, the gambling industry in the UK supports a large number of jobs. In fact, there are believed to be between 100,000 and 120,000 jobs directly linked to the UK gambling industry. The average salary within the online gaming industry is now £57,000, which is significantly higher than the national average of £31,000.[7]

Top Tips for Responsible Gambling

It is important to pay attention to your own behaviour and to continually examine your relationship with gambling. There are some useful tips that can help people strike the right balance between entertainment and financial wellness. By following these tips, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that lead to risky gambling or problem gambling.

First, it is a good idea to set a clear budget for your gambling activities. This should be an amount that you can afford and an amount that you can justify as money spent on entertainment. You should not factor any potential winnings into this budget and deal solely with the amount of money you can comfortably afford to spend on the activity.

Next, you should select the bookies and online casinos you are going to use wisely. Focus on reputable companies, with safety features like deposit limits. If you think you are at risk of breaking your budget, set a deposit limit so you can impose a level of control on your spending and avoid running into financial difficulties.

Try to focus on low-risk gambling. Betting a small amount of money on football results, or playing low-risk games like blackjack will usually be a safer bet than chasing long odds, or playing high-risk games. With sports betting, try to focus on sports you are familiar with and avoid placing ‘random’ bets on events you do not fully understand.

Approach gambling with the mindset that anything you win is a bonus. Avoid chasing losses at all costs. If you start to find yourself chasing losses, consider whether you need to reduce your gambling budget. Responsible gamblers view gambling as a fun pastime and see losses as an acceptable entertainment expense, rather than a loss they must recoup.

It can also be a good idea to take breaks from gambling and to check in with your loved ones and ensure they do not have any concerns about your gambling activities. Be completely open and transparent about your gambling activities and avoid any situation where you are making bets that you need to hide from the people around you.

Finally, if you do feel like you are struggling, seek help. The National Gambling Helpline offers free and confidential support. You can reach them on 0808 8020 133. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sources:

  1. Gambling-related harms evidence review: summary – GOV.UK
  2. Market overview – operator data to June 2023 (published August 2023)
  3. Problem gambling – NHS inform
  4. Problem gambling vs gambling-related harms
  5. Exploring the links between gambling and problem debt – University of Bristol
  6. The Social Impact of Gambling: Exploring the Benefits and Drawbacks in the UK
  7. Gambling Statistics UK 2023 – Xace
Claire James
Claire Jameshttp://www.firedigitaluk.com
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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