Top Tips for Responsible Gambling

playing cards, dice, and poker chips

What does the word ‘gambling’ make you think about? The bright lights of Vegas; a cheeky tenner on your favourite team; a day at the races; the dream of winning millions on the lottery and never working again…places and opportunities to gamble seem to be here, there and everywhere at times.

Although gambling is often associated with the idea of making some fast cash, the odds are mostly stacked against you.

Here are some of the facts about gambling to help you have fun while keeping on top of your budget.

What is gambling?

It may sound pretty obvious, but gambling is when money, or anything of value, is staked on an outcome that no-one can be certain of – a game of chance.

The appeal of gambling, at a casino, online, or with your mates, is that nobody can be sure which way it will go. However, most forms of gambling have been around for a while, with a whole team of people working out the odds.

The lottery can afford to give away huge jackpots because they know they will earn more in ticket sales than they give away. Bookmakers can offer you great odds because they will have worked out the statistical likeliness of something happening – it’s just good business.

That said, going for a flutter can be a fun way to spend a bit of time, often with a social group. And for many people, gambling doesn’t become a problem. But it is good to learn a bit more, so that you can support yourself and your friends to have a healthy relationship with gambling.

Gambling responsibly can be lots of fun, and it doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your finances if you’re responsible about it. Check out our top tips:

Odds

One of the most important terms if you want to gamble responsibly, but one of the most misunderstood! Odds are the returns offered by the operator who takes your bet. Odds of 10-1 would mean that you would get £10 for every £1 you bet, if you manage to predict the right outcome. Predict wrong, and they’ll keep your money.

Ages

Important! In the UK, you have to be 18 to participate in most forms of gambling. This includes casinos, bookies and online games. At 16, you are only able to buy lottery tickets and scratch cards. Find out about the laws around gambling in the UK here.

Fruit Machines & slot machines

There are lots of different types of gaming machines. A fruit machine is a type of gaming machine you might see in a pub. You can also find computerised versions in bookmakers and casinos, sometimes called slots. The machine randomly presents pictures, and if you get a match, you’ll win a prize. Sometimes these machines offer more traditional gambling games such as roulette or blackjack.

Myth Buster: Some people think it’s possible to beat these machines but in reality most of them run on an unpredictable computer algorithm.

The Lottery

The Lottery is a nationwide game. Millions of people buy tickets each week, predicting a row of numbers that will get picked that week. There’s thousands of possible combinations and millions of players. You have the same chances of winning with each ticket as you do getting struck by lightning TWICE!

Set a budget

Gambling is often a social activity – just like going to the pub or a gig. Try to treat it in the same way you would those activities. If you can afford to spend £30 playing the games, win or lose, then make that your budget, and finish the activity when it’s gone.  For more info on making a budget, check out this article.

Tick, tock

As well as setting a budget, setting a time limit is a good idea. Saying that you will spend half an hour gambling will mean you aren’t tempted to exceed your budget, and that your friends might be able to prompt you to think about leaving.

Quit while you’re ahead

So, you’ve spent your £30 budget, and you’ve won £50 already. Using that to play more games might mean an even bigger win – but it could mean you lose it all. Ending your gambling while you’re ahead will feel much better than the other way around. Go and treat yourself with your winnings!

Don’t go chasing losses

If you find yourself down on money after a little while, don’t carrying on gambling expecting that you will eventually win and even out your losses. A coin that’s flipped doesn’t have a memory, and neither does a roulette wheel or a lottery ticket. Each time the wheel is spun or the ticket bought, the chance of winning or losing is the same as the last. If you’ve spent more than you can afford, take a break and do something else.

If you want to find out more about responsible gambling, including where to go for help, visit GamCare and BigDeal for more information, advice and real stories.

Worried about your own or someone else gambling? – call 0808 8020 133 for support or find help online at www.gamcare.org.uk

More information