Responsible Gambling

Posted by Arthur Crowson .

Gambling addiction is a condition as old as gambling itself. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially identified gambling addiction as a disorder in 2019, so it is an internationally recognized condition.

Since the WHO ruling, medical experts and therapists have sought to inform gamblers and gaming operators about the causes and effects of gambling addiction, while putting forth preventive measures that mitigate its effects on individuals and society.

Gamble Online wants to spread the word about responsible gaming and seeks to give our readers the information they need to protect themselves.

What is Responsible Gaming?

Responsible gaming is a concept in the land-based and online casino communities that promotes fairness in the industry and tools to help gamblers maintain good habits. A gambling operator who promotes responsible gambling is one who maintains a fair gaming environment, as well as access to self-exclusion lists and panic button technology.

Beyond that, regional organizations and industry groups promote responsible gaming initiatives. For instance, the American Gaming Association organizes Responsible Gaming Education Week each week.

Regulated Gambling

In US states with regulated gambling, state laws encourage casinos and gaming operators to institute responsible gaming measures. Thus, many US states have their own responsible gaming initiatives. These include state-level self-exclusion lists, legal gambling ages, reliable payment options, and other preventive measures like bet limits.

How to Gamble Responsibly

The World Health Organization sees gambling addiction as a medical condition. For a small percentage of gamblers, wagering is compulsive. Once they feel the adrenaline rush of gambling, they cannot walk away from the game. Problem gambling can have major effects on their finances, their relationships, and their inner psychology.

Many compulsive gamblers deal with the urge every day. To raise awareness and help gambling addicts learn how to cope with their compulsions, all gamblers should learn how to spot the signs of problem gambling.


Gambling Addiction: Facts About Addicts

Due to successive studies over the years, researchers and pathologists have sketched a picture of the Compulsive Gambler Personality. While anyone can become a problem gambler — billionaires have lost everything due to gambling addiction — certain factors heighten the risk of pathological or problem gambling.

  • Pathological Gambling Prevalence: Pathological gamblers are described as people who cannot control the urge to gamble and face significant consequences for their inability to control their gambling. According to Calado and Griffiths, pathological gambling rates range between 0.1% and 6%, depending on the nation and demographic.
  • Problem Gambling: Problem gamblers are considered less serious or “subclinical” gamblers who control gambling compulsion most of the time, but are at risk of becoming pathological gamblers. The same researchers suggest that this group comprises two to three times more gamblers than those considered pathological.
  • At-Risk Groups: Some people have elevated risks of becoming gambling addicts. Across regions and cultures, males, young adults, low-income people, and non-married people have the highest risk of becoming compulsive gamblers. Other factors which heighten the risk of problem gambling is unemployed status, lack of formal education, and high-deprivation neighborhoods. Indigenous groups and some ethnic minority groups also face higher prevalence rates.
  • Mental Health Disorders: Studies in 2005 and 2016 showed that both pathological gambling and problem gambling have a high comorbidity rate with other mental health disorders. This is particularly true of substance abuse disorders. Finally, gambling addiction disorder overlaps with a range of mood, anxiety, and personality disorders.
  • High Relapse Rates: Having a history of gambling addiction also leads to a heightened risk of compulsive gambling. Among the population of current problem gamblers, between one-half to two-thirds became problem gamblers in the last calendar year. Of these “new” problem gamblers, somewhere between one-third and two-thirds were gambling addicts in the past.
  • Mental Disorder: Gaming Disorder is an Official Mental Illness. At the 72nd World Health Assembly that took place on May 25, 2019, the World Health Organization officially declared gaming disorder an illness. Scientists and therapists in most countries worldwide consider gaming disorder a medical condition.

Gambling Statistics in the USA

As a percentage, the population of the United States falls into the middle ground among gambling addiction rates. The land-based USA gambling industry is massive, including hundreds of commercial casinos, hundreds of tribal casinos, and 45 US states with lottery gambling. Researchers believe that 2.6% of the US population — or roughly 10 million Americans — deal with some level of problem gambling in a year.

Online Gambling and Technology

Online gambling has increased year-on-year for the last two-plus decades. These days, mobile gambling has overtaken online gambling as Americans’ favorite way to gamble online. While desktop devices (PCs and laptops) comprise 40% of online gambling, a variety of smartphones and tablet computers make up the remaining 60%.

  • Geographic Factors in Gambling Addiction: Studies have shown that gambling addiction is most prominent in Nevada. Given its connection to Las Vegas and Reno. This might suggest that proximity to gambling is a risk factor. On the other hand, it might suggest that gambling venues draw a higher number of gambling addicts.
  • Demographic Factors in Gambling Addiction: Multiple studies have shown that men are more prone to gambling addiction than women. The increased accessibility due to technology — mobile gambling and online gambling — and cultural shifts could change this dynamic over time.

Most Common Causes of Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction has no single cause. Certain traits act as risk factors for compulsive gambling, much like there are risk factors for other types of addiction. Through successive studies over the past decades, researchers have isolated the following problem gambling risk factors.

  • Gender: Outside of one or two European countries, statistics show that men are more likely to develop gambling addiction than women. Explanations range from social norms about risk-taking to the presence of more testosterone in males.
  • Age: People in the 18 to 25 age range are more prone to problem gambling. Scientific research shows the human brain is not fully developed until the age 25, so there are biological reasons for more compulsive behavior.
  • Mental Disorders: Those suffering from mental disorders like OCD and ADHD are more prone to addictive behavior than those without such disorders. Those with bipolar disorder are more likely to gamble when in a manic phase.
  • Existing Addictions: Those prone to alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and substance abuse are more likely to engage in compulsive gambling. Studies have shown that video game addiction and shopping addiction overlap with gambling addiction, too.
  • Surrounding Influences: Setting has a role. As mentioned earlier, high-deprivation neighborhoods have more gambling addiction. Also, statistics show that the children and spouses of gambling addicts have a higher rate of becoming compulsive gamblers themselves.
  • Personality Traits: People of a competitive, impulsive, or workaholic nature are more prone to gambling addiction. People who are more prone to risk-taking are more likely to show problem gambling behavior.

How to Identify a Gambling Addict: Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Most casual gamblers stop when losing. Many set limits on how much they’ll lose, either by having a set bankroll, a loss limit, or a win goal. People dealing with compulsive gambling cannot set limits. Over time, this pattern becomes increasingly destructive. Here are signs your loved one has a gambling problem.

  • Preoccupation with Gambling: Constantly planning gambling activities or planning how to get money for gambling.
  • Escapism Through Gambling: Escaping one’s problems through gambling activities. Their escape might be from anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, or guilt.
  • Gambling Escalation: Needing to gamble more money in order to get the same thrill.
  • Chasing Losses: Trying to get back money lost through gambling activities. Going on tilt or chasing lost bets.
  • Successive Attempts to Stop: Try to stop gambling or cut back on one’s gambling without success.
  • Lying About Gambling Activities: Lying to family and loved ones about the extent of their gambling is a red flag.
  • Restlessness Without Gambling: Irritability, restlessness, or angst when not gambling.
  • Bailouts for Gambling Debts: Asking friends and loved ones for cash to bail them out of financial trouble due to gambling debts.

Gambling Myths & Misconceptions

Understanding gambling addiction requires facts and research information. It also helps to know the common myths and misconceptions about problem gambling. This helps those trying to help gambling addicts avoid pitfalls of their own.


Gambling Addiction Myths

Addicts are those who gamble every single day. Problem gamblers often wait for the right time and circumstances to gamble. They might have periods of remission. Once started, they cannot stop.

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Common Misconception: Low Status and IQ

Gambling addicts must be unintelligent or lazy. Despite the statistics, compulsive behavior influences people of all backgrounds, social status, and IQ level. High-functioning and highly successful gambling addicts exist, though problems emerge over time.

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Common Misconception: Give Financial Help

Loved ones should help gamblers clear their gambling debts. While it helps addicts to reveal their gambling secret to friends and loved ones, those people should not clear the debts. This might encourage further behavior, or enable the addiction to grow.

How to Get Help for Compulsive Gambling

Whether you are a gambling addict or someone close to a compulsive gambler, the healing process requires a specific approach. Learn how others have gotten help for their gambling addiction.

How Gambling Addicts Get Better

  • Overcome Denial: You might deny gambling addiction at first, but admitting it helps relieve the angst. If you confront a gambling addict, expect a denial at first.
  • Acceptance: Acceptance opens the door for solutions. For those confronting a gambling addict, work to a breakthrough where the addict admits their addiction. Show patience and empathy.
  • Ask for Help: Whether through a helpline, a hotline, or a therapist, a gambling addict should seek outside help.
  • Take Action: Therapy and counseling help. If an addict doesn’t have the money for therapy, they should join Gamblers Anonymous or another therapy group.

How to Help a Gambling Addict

  • Protect Yourself: Before you confront a gambling addict, make certain you are safe from bodily harm. Group interventions might help.
  • Get Help & Support: Have a gambling addict speak with a helpline first. It might be easier to speak to a stranger. Once a breakthrough happens, widen the circle with support from other people close to the addict.
  • Plan a Strategy: Plan a strategy to handle financial matters. Get a plan to have someone monitor the addict’s finances to assure they stick with the plan. Restrict cash flow and online payments. A financial strategy combats feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Prepare for Setbacks: Gambling addicts can be manipulative when their urge to gamble is thwarted. Some can become angry and violent. Don’t expect a straight line path to recovery.

Gambling Addiction Test

Gamblers Anonymous has a 20-question gambling addiction test. If someone you confront denies the problem, have them take the test to determine if they qualify. If the term Gamblers Anonymous sets them off, print off the questions to avoid triggering them.

Gambling Addiction Treatment

While loved ones are an essential part of recovery, most gambling addicts need a certain level of professional treatment to get better. Now that it’s seen as a medical condition, treatment centers exist across America. These groups also can help.

Some cities and states have their own dedicated gambling hotlines. Those who need additional help with their compulsive gambling should call the US hotline nearest you.

Alabama Birmingham Hotline Number: (205) 824-2473
Montgomery Hotline Number: (334) 399-6918
Mobile Hotline Number: (251) 378-5018
Alaska Alaska does not have a dedicated hotline. Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
Arizona Arizona Spanish Hotline Number (888) 665-8346 (888 NO-JUEGO)
Phoenix Hotline Number: (602) 266-9784
Tucson Hotline Number: (520) 570-7879
Arkansas Arkansas does not have a dedicated hotline. Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
California Central Valley Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Inland Empire Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Northern California Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Orange County Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Palm Springs Hotline Number: (760) 325-2808
Sacramento Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
San Diego Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Southern California Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Colorado Colorado Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Connecticut Connecticut Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Delaware Delaware Valley Intergroup Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Florida Florida Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Georgia Atlanta Korean Hotline Number: (678) 431-6600
Georgia Hotline Number: (404) 237-7281
Marietta/Douglasville Hotline Number: (404) 641-5327
Hawaii Hawaii has no current hotline at this time. Hawaiians should call the officer at 909 931 9056 for help.
Idaho Idaho does not have a dedicated hotline. Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
Illinois Chicago Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Peoria Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Silvis Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Indiana Indianapolis Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Iowa Iowa does not have a dedicated hotline. Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
Kansas Kansas Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Kentucky Lexington Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Louisville Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Louisiana Baton Rouge Hotline Number: (888) 502-5610
New Orleans Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Maine Maine Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Maryland Baltimore Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Massachusetts Boston Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Michigan Detroit Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Grand Rapids Hotline Number: (616) 776-0666
Minnesota Minnesota Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Mississippi Mississippi Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Missouri Eastern Missouri/Southern Illinois Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Kansas City Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Montana Billings Hotline Number: (406) 860-8287
Helena Hotline Number: (406) 431-1663
Nebraska Lincoln Hotline Number: (402) 473-7933
Omaha Hotline Number: (402) 978-7557
Nevada Carson City Hotline Number: (775) 882-8222
Reno Hotline Number: (775) 356-8070
Las Vegas Hotline Numbers: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
New Hampshire New Hampshire Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
New Jersey New Jersey Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Southern New Jersey Hotline Number: 855-2 CALL-GA (855-222-5542)
New Mexico Albuquerque Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
New York New York City/Westchester/Rockland/Surrounding Counties Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Albany Hotline Number: (518) 292-0414
Buffalo Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Niagara Falls Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Rochester Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Syracuse Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Watertown/Massena Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Long Island Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
North Carolina Greensboro/Winston-Salem Hotline Number: (336) 681-8516
North Carolina Hotline Number: (919) 460-9039
North Dakota North Dakota Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Ohio Cincinnati Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Dayton Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Ohio Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Toledo Hotline Number: (419) 327-9514
Youngstown Hotline Number: (330) 505-5060
Oklahoma Oklahoma Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Oregon Oregon Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Pennsylvania Delaware Valley Intergroup Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Pittsburgh Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Rhode Island Rhode Island Gambling Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
South Carolina South Carolina Gambling Hotline: (919) 460-9039
South Dakota South Dakota does not have a dedicated hotline currently. Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
Tennessee Memphis Gambling Hotline: (901) 438-3695
Texas Austin Gambling Hotline: (512) 860-2958
Dallas Gambling Hotline: (214) 675-0939
Fort Worth Gambling Hotline: (817) 371-0624
Houston Gambling Hotline: (855) 442-7105
San Antonio Gambling Hotline: (210) 705-4429
Utah Salt Lake City Gambling Hotline: (801) 758-8890
Vermont Vermont Gambling Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Virginia Northern Virginia Gambling Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Staunton Gambling Hotline (540) 447-4889
Washington Washington Gambling Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
West Virginia West Virginia Gambling Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Wisconsin Appleton Gambling Hotline: (920) 730-0353
Madison Gambling Hotline: (608) 283-5800
Wausau Gambling Hotline: (715) 297-5317
Wyoming Wyoming Gambling Hotline: 855-2 CALL-GA (855-222-5542)
District of Columbia Washington D.C. Gambling Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Gambling Hotline: (787) 257-2204


Gambling is entertainment. It is supposed to be fun, thrilling, and positive. People should not gamble for a paycheck. They should not gamble as an escape from life. People under 18 should not gamble. The essence of responsible gaming is that losses should be an entertainment cost — not a factor in your day-to-day life.

If you believe that you or a loved one engages in problem gambling, find help. Learn the risk factors and warning signs of gambling addiction, then take steps to find help and healing. Gambling should not be an obstacle to a better life.

The mission of Gamble Online is to help people find the best online gambling sites. Its goal is to help players gamble responsibly. If you have a problem, learn more at these gambling addiction resources.


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Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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