Home » responsible gambling
Joe Yarnold

Responsible gambling essentially means gambling in a sensible way to reduce or remove potential harms. It’s a serious topic, and anyone who participates in any form of gambling should always take the appropriate steps to stay safe and in control.

In this guide, we will explore what responsible gambling is in more detail, why gambling can become addictive, how to gamble responsibly, how to spot someone who is suffering from compulsive gambling, where to seek help, and more.

Why Gambling Can Become Addictive

Although most people can gamble without developing a gambling disorder, some do end up becoming addicted. So, why is gambling addictive for some? This question has been extensively studied over the years, and while there is no definitive answer, we do have a very good idea. An addiction to gambling, much like any form of addiction, is caused by a combination of environmental and biological factors.

Environmental factors can include income as studies have shown gambling is more frequent in low-income households. Those who are exposed to and participate in gambling at a younger age have a higher risk of developing an addiction. Also, people who are experiencing stress from work, family, or financial problems are more likely to develop problem gambling.

From a biological standpoint, research has shown that gambling stimulates the mesolimbic system, also known as the rewards system, in the brain. This is the same structure and neural pathway that alcohol and drugs stimulate.

This reward system releases dopamine into the brain when stimulated and is what gives us the feeling of pleasure. This creates positive feedback in the brain and encourages us to repeat a behaviour.

It’s been shown that both casual gamblers and those with a gambling disorder release similar levels of dopamine levels when they win money. However, those with a disorder release larger levels of dopamine when losing than casual gamblers and, in many cases, more than if they win money.

Because gambling addicts get high levels of dopamine released whether they win or lose, the link between gambling and pleasure grows stronger and stronger, and the urge to gamble increases.

Another issue that can strengthen an addiction is that stress can lead to gambling, and gambling addiction leads to stress. This creates an endless loop of being stressed from gambling, so you gamble to get that dopamine hit to feel pleasure and relieve the stress only to get more stressed after, which creates an even stronger urge to gamble and so it goes on.

Losing Money is Difficult to Accept for Some Gamblers

Another answer to “Why is gambling addictive?” is that some people find it hard to accept losing money. Most healthy gamblers can accept the risk aspect of gambling (losing money) without the reward (winning money). However, for some people, this is not so easy.

Both healthy gamblers and pathological gamblers are known to chase losses, but pathological gamblers are much more inclined to chase losses. This is often because problem gamblers are wagering more money than they can afford to. And if they lose, they go into a state of panic and desperation, and their impulse control lowers. So, they keep betting to make back the money they couldn’t afford to lose but lose more in the process.

Chasing losses is always a bad idea. It’s one of the first steps to developing an addiction to gambling. It’s also one of the major harmful effects of gambling addiction and the main cause of financial problems in problem gamblers.

Gambling Can Quickly Become a Subconscious Habit

As we mentioned earlier, gambling impacts the reward system in the brain. When gambling, dopamine is released, giving us the feeling of pleasure. As humans, we are hardwired to seek pleasure, which was essential in the early days of humankind as it helped us seek out things we needed, such as food and comfort.

When dopamine is released in the brain because of certain stimuli, the link between pleasure and the stimuli is stored in a part of our brain called the basal ganglia. This part of the brain is not within our conscious control, but the link between a certain behaviour and pleasure is now in there, and our brain will subconsciously tell us to seek out this behaviour again.

Because gambling triggers our reward system and gives us pleasure, and as we said earlier, pathological gamblers produce high levels of dopamine levels, the link between gambling and pleasure in the subconscious brain can quickly become strong. So, the brain will be sending stronger signals to seek out gambling behaviour.

Gambling Statistics in India

India has a long and storied history of gambling, and a hymn from the Indian text Rig Veda may be the earliest account of gambling in the world. It’s still a very popular activity today even though current gambling laws in India prohibit it in much of the country. Let’s look at a few statistics about gambling and gambling habits in India.

Tips on How to Practice Responsible Gambling

Responsible gambling can be hard to do at times, as there’s a lot of temptation, and you can quickly get caught up in the moment. Luckily, there are many online responsible gambling tools that gambling sites offer to help you practice safe gambling. Next, we’ll take a look at a few tips that will help you stay in control when gambling.

Tip #1: Set Deposit Limits

Found at almost every site, deposit limits let you set the maximum amount you can deposit over either a day, week, or month. Once you have reached this limit, the site will not allow you to make any more deposits.

Tip #2: Make Use of Loss Limit Tools

Another responsible gaming tool very similar to deposit limits is loss limits. With this tool, you can set up a maximum amount of money you can lose over a predetermined period. Once you have lost this amount, you will be locked out of your account for the remainder of time.

Tip #3: Set Time/Session Limits

Time limits allow you to limit the amount of time you can spend on a site. These limits are typically daily. For example, you may set a limit of 2 hours a day, once you have spent this pre-allotted amount of time on the site, you will be blocked from using it until the next day.

Tip #4: Use Time-Out Tools

Time-outs or cooling-off periods allow you to block yourself from using a site for several days. You might feel you just need a break from gambling or want to stop gambling on work days. You might have something important going on in your life and would like to remove the distraction of gambling for a short period.

When you are in one of these cooling-off periods, you will not be able to log in to your betting account and gamble. Additionally, the site also removes you from their mailing list during this time, so you will not be sent any messages or emails that may tempt you to gamble.

Tip #5: Self-Exclusion

Self-exclusion is the most extreme tool someone can use. If you have tried other options but cannot control your gambling and it’s causing you issues, then it’s your best option. With self-exclusion, you are essentially banning yourself from a site.

Once you’ve requested exclusion, a site will close down your account, return any money you have in there, and take steps to stop you from opening a new account with them or any gambling sites the company owns.

How to Identify a Gambling Addiction

Spotting a gambling problem isn’t always easy, but here are some telltale signs to look out for if you believe you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to gambling.

Hiding Gambling Behaviour from Loved Ones

A common symptom exhibited by someone with a gambling problem is lying to loved ones about their gambling habits. For those with an addiction, they may feel guilty or embarrassed about this or worried that they will be judged.

They may also worry that if loved ones know how much time and money they are spending on gambling, they will have to confront their issue and are not prepared to admit they have an addiction or that they are in denial about it.

Increasing Bets to Recoup Losses

Casual and responsible bettors can deal with losing money when gambling as they spend within their means. Compulsive gamblers find it hard to accept losses and can often panic when they do lose. They will then often place larger and larger bets to make back the money they have lost.

Gambling Obsession and Inability to Stop

Someone suffering from problem gambling will often be obsessed with gambling and unable to stop. Constantly talking about gambling, reliving past gambling experiences, and gambling whenever they have a chance is a clear sign of a problem.

Financial Problems Caused by Gambling

If someone is unable to pay a bill, pay their rent, can’t afford food, etc, because they spent the money gambling, that’s a clear indication of an addiction. Responsible gambling means only gambling a small amount of your disposable income.

Psychological and Physical Symptoms

There are several psychological and even physical symptoms that compulsive gamblers may suffer from. Psychological indicators include stress, depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Gambling addicts can often suffer physically from headaches, nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

How Bankroll Management Can Help With Responsible Gaming

Bankroll management is the system you use to manage your funds for gambling. It is something important all gamblers should employ as it is not only an effective way to be profitable over time but also the backbone of responsible gambling.

The first step of bankroll management is working out your gambling budget. To do this, assess how much money you can afford to lose. The next step is determining how much of your bankroll you can place on a single bet. The amount will differ from person to person, depending on budgets and what systems they are implementing, however, we recommend somewhere between 2-4% of your total bankroll.

By implementing bankroll management, you remove impulsiveness from your gambling habits as you have a clear plan on how much money to bet, and it can stop you from trying to recoup losses. In addition, proper bankroll management gives you gambling longevity. It vastly eliminates the risk of running out of money quickly and feeling the need to deposit more. If you’d like to enjoy online gambling without having to spend too much at a time, we recommend finding betting sites that accept low deposits.

Treatment and Recovery

If you believe that you are suffering from an addiction to gambling, you are not alone, and there are many services out there to help you. Below are some of the top treatment and recovery services for those with a gambling problem.

  • Gamblers Anonymous India: Offers multilingual support groups and a helpline. They also provide email support and online forums.
  • Alpha Healing Center: Provides a residential rehab centre for addicts. The centre has specialists who create a personalized treatment plan for each person’s gambling problem.
  • Hope Care India: This is a free and confidential helpline. There is also a centre with group meetings, seminars, spiritual counselling, and more. The centre offers both in-patient and out-patient services.
  • I Care Foundation: A gambling addiction treatment centre in Mumbai. The centre focuses on finding the cause of the addiction and provides cognitive behavioural therapy.

How Do Online Gambling Sites Promote Responsible Gambling?

Nowadays, regulated online casinos and sports betting sites in India are often required by law to promote responsible gambling. Even if they are not required to do so, most sites promote it anyway. This may be because they feel a moral obligation to do so, but more likely, they understand most gamblers support responsible gambling tools.

In addition, the stigma and bad press surrounding gambling are often caused by the harm addiction can cause. So, promoting safe gambling is not only the right thing to do morally but also in a business sense.

One way sites promote responsible gaming is by providing helplines or email addresses you can use to discuss and ask questions if you think you or someone you know has a gambling disorder.

In addition, many sites now offer a checklist of gambling addiction signs to keep an eye out for or a link to external sites that offer gambling problem self-tests. They also provide links to responsible gambling sites where you can seek help and guidance about gambling addiction.

The Bottom Line

Compulsive gambling is a serious matter that can have terrible consequences if not addressed. It can lead to a breakdown in relationships, financial stress, mental health issues, and even physical problems.

Addiction is not a weakness, and while gambling is safe for most people, developing a gambling problem is always a risk. Therefore, it’s essential that everyone who wagers money practices responsible gambling. Set time and money limits, take breaks, and if you suspect you or someone you know has a problem, we recommend reaching out to professionals for guidance.


What is an example of responsible gambling?

What is the goal of responsible gambling?

Is it possible to gamble responsibly?

How do casinos promote responsible gambling?

Joe Yarnold

Joe Yarnold has been a part of the SBS team since 2021. He works as a content editor and writer specializing in gambling. He has a background in writing informative articles on all aspects of gambling. Although his focus is on casinos he also has a passion for sports betting and has years of experience in this field.