Guide to Responsible Gambling in the USA

Being able to practice responsible gambling is important and although many see gambling as a way to have fun with spare time and money, for others a casual hobby can quickly become an unmanageable problem.

To be able to enjoy games of chance in a healthy way you need to know when to stop as if you find yourself placing “one more bet” after each loss, you could end up spending more than you can afford to lose. Here we take a look at the dangers of gambling, tips to help you practice responsible gaming and what resources are available to help problem gamers in the US.

What are the Dangers of Gambling?

Problem gambling can lead to complications in your personal life. In many cases it affects careers, important relationships with family members and causes financial strain. As gamblers in America need to be at least 21 to gamble, or 18 at offshore betting sites, an increasing number of young people are falling victim to gambling addiction. Let’s take a look at a few of the dangers of problem gambling you should be aware of.

Strain on Relationships

Gambling addiction can seriously affect your personal relationships in a number of ways. For example, many people who struggle with responsible gambling become frustrated when they find themselves facing an inevitable losing streak. Not only does this negatively impact their mood but in many cases, they’ll spend a lot more time gambling in an effort to recover any losses. This leads to less time being spent with loved ones as well as emotional strain on important relationships with family members.

Financial Stress

Something players who aren’t able to practice responsible gambling struggle with is setting a budget and keeping to it. The worst mistake you can make is trying to recover losses by continuing to bet and many people have ended up spending a lot more than they can afford. Once someone with a gambling problem runs out of personal funds it’s not uncommon for them to take loans and/or borrow money from family members in an effort to chase that big win that may never come. This causes financial stress and, in extreme cases, can lead to bankruptcy.

Legal Consequences & Job Loss

Those who suffer from a severe gambling problem can end up facing serious legal consequences. For example, it’s not uncommon for gambling addicts who run out of their own personal funds to steal from employers or even close friends and family members in order to fund their gambling addiction. This can result in job loss and/or imprisonment.

Emotional and Physical Health Issues

According to medical professionals, those who struggle with responsible gaming have higher odds of low physical exercise, poor diet and poor overall health compared to non-problem gamblers. The loss of money and financial strain also leads to mental health issues such as severe stress, anxiety and/or depression.

What is Responsible Gaming?

Responsible gaming is defined as the set of social responsibility initiatives by the gaming industry – including online operators, governments and regulators – to promote awareness of gambling addiction.

In an effort to combat addiction, gambling operators provide tools that players can use to practice responsible gaming. These include daily, weekly and monthly spending and time limits, self-exclusion and credit card restrictions.

It is also important to know that different people engage with gambling in a different way, meaning there are several distinct ‘types’ of gamblers. Understanding which of these categories you fit into is important when trying to determine whether you have a problem or not.

What are the Different Types of Gamblers?

Thousands of people are able to enjoy responsible gaming. However, it can end up becoming problematic for certain players. Making sure that you’re aware of the gambling risks and guidelines that can be used to lower your chances of becoming addicted. These give you the knowledge to identify whether you have an issue and what can be done to prevent the possibility of becoming a problem gambler. There are many types of gamblers out there and to give you an idea of what they are we’ve provided more information below.

Pro Gamblers

This type of gambler is one that knows how to practice responsible gaming by managing the amount of time and money they spend. They focus more on casino games that require a certain element of skill, such as poker, rather than pure luck. Alternatively, if they are sports bettors they might have such a detailed knowledge of certain sports of league that they will effectively have an edge over the bookmaker.

Social Gamblers

A social gambler understands that gambling is meant to be a form of entertainment. As a result, they are able to maintain full control over the time and money they spend and see any losses as a payment for the fun they’ve had.

Binge Gamblers

Unlike problem gamblers, a binge gambler will go without gambling for long periods of time which are then followed by binges. These binges are usually triggered when they have a surplus of money and will often end after facing a devastating loss.

Action Problem Gamblers

Often these players start off playing friendly card games as minors and/or participate in sports betting from a young age. They usually stick to games such as poker and sports betting as they believe that there are systems that can be developed to guarantee a win.

Problem Gamblers

Despite facing negative consequences such as financial stress and deteriorating relationships, for example, a problem gambler will continue to participate in gambling activities.

6 Tips to Enjoy Responsible Gaming

There are a number of things you can do to practice responsible gaming. And to give you an idea about what they are we’ve provided 6 examples below.

Have Realistic Expectations

Responsible gaming starts with having realistic expectations. Because the majority of gambling games are based purely on luck, it’s important to understand that there is a very good chance you could lose. Treat gambling as a form of entertainment. Think of any money you lose as payment for the games you play and any money you win as a bonus.

Set a Budget Beforehand

Those who struggle with responsible gambling tend to get caught up in the moment which leads to spending more than what they can actually afford. Setting a budget before you start playing is the best way to avoid overspending. If you end up spending the money you budgeted for, it’s important to have the self-control to stop there and then whether you’ve been playing for hours or just a few minutes.

Restrict the Amount of Time Spent Gambling

Gambling is very immersive and as a result, it’s easy to unknowingly waste hours playing your favorite games. Those who aren’t able to practice responsible gaming end up spending more time gambling than they do with family and friends.

This addiction can also interfere with careers when players choose to gamble rather than complete important work tasks. It’s important to set a time limit and make sure that you stick to it regardless of whether you’re winning or losing.

Only Spend What You Can Afford

In order to enjoy responsible gaming, it’s important to make sure that you only spend what you can afford to lose and that you never borrow money with the plan of paying it back when you hit your big win. If you end up spending your entire gambling budget, the last thing you should do is chase your losses by spending even more money as this is one of the main reasons gambling addicts find themselves in financially and emotionally distressing situations.

Avoid Using Gambling as a Coping Mechanism

It’s not uncommon for people to cope with emotional and physical pain in a number of unhealthy ways and many will often turn to drugs, alcohol and/or gambling. Although gambling might take your mind off whatever struggles you’re facing for a certain period of time, using this as a coping mechanism can become a vicious cycle that will inevitably add even more stress to your life and make whatever situation you’re in much worse.

Be Able to Identify the Warning Signs

Being able to identify that you’re struggling with responsible gaming is important. By recognizing the warning signs early enough you’re able to avoid the devastating consequences that can result from a gambling addiction. Struggling to cut back on gambling, becoming irritable and restless at the thought of stopping and borrowing money when you’ve got nothing left to gamble with are all examples of warning signs that could indicate that you have a gambling problem.

Getting Help if You Have a Gambling Problem

The American Gambling Association has recommended a new approach to advertising campaigns to allow the use of national gambling helplines. This is because the lengthy lists of state-specific helplines on advertisements nationwide create a barrier as those who require help with responsible gambling aren’t sure which number to use.

For example, there could be confusion as to whether they need to use a specific helpline depending on where they live or where they gamble. If you or anyone you love is exhibiting signs of gambling addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Below you’ll find a few organizations dedicated to helping those who struggle with responsible gambling.

Gamblers Anonymous

responsible gaming gamblers anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous is a group of women and men who share their experiences and offer support and strength to those who also struggle with a gaming problem. The only requirement needed to become a member is the desire to stop gambling.

National Council on Problem Gaming

responsible gaming

Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne and Dr. Robert were among those who founded this organization in 1972. Its purpose is to serve as the national advocate to mitigate the harm caused by gambling and to lead national stakeholders in developing comprehensive programs and policies for those who are affected by problem gambling.

Gambling Therapy

responsible gaming therapy

This organization offers text-based gambling therapy in any language. The information you share about your gambling addiction or issues you may have with a family member you believe may have a gambling problem is kept confidential at all times. You’re able to get in touch via email or by clicking on the “Speak to an Advisor” button on the site.


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Nikita specializes in casino content, in particular online poker, roulette and betting strategies. Whether she's reviewing casinos or putting together useful guides she strives to provide articles that are both informative and unbiased in an effort to give readers a true look into the world of online gambling. When she’s not working on her next novel or reading you’ll find her enjoying the great outdoors with family and friends.