Help with How to Gamble Responsibly

US Casino Advantage logo

In the United States, gambling is expanding. All but five states have a lottery. Alabama and Nevada legislation under debate might decrease that to three states. Though declining in popularity, wagering on horse races is legal in most states. Sports betting, which was previously exclusive to Nevada and parlay cards in Delaware, is now legal in over half the United States. Most of these sportsbook states also allow mobile wagering. When daily fantasy sports are included, some form of gambling is legal in all states except Hawaii. 

With this expansion of gambling across the US, it’s even more important players understand their limits. Gambling, like other activities, can be fun when enjoyed responsibly. This is best done by understanding your habits and planning ahead.

Expect to lose time and money

The most important aspect of responsible gambling is knowing your financial and time limitations. While winning is a fun occurrence, an expectation of winning becomes a problem. When players expect to win, they are more likely to take unnecessary risks and bet beyond their limits. Long term this can lead to problem gambling behavior.

One of the best ways to combat this is to plan on losing. If the thought of losing $1,000 seems unreasonable, then you should not risk $1,000. This is especially true if you have a sure system. Even the unlikely can happen, quickly leaving bettors without a bankroll. Of course, bankroll management varies based on whether you are gambling on vacation or as a regular in a locals market.

Time management follows the same principles as bankroll management. Can you afford to spend the time gambling? If so, how much time do you have to spend? The answer depends on your other responsibilities and obligations. 

Responsible destination gambling

Vacation or destination gambling brings up thoughts of the Las Vegas Strip and the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Gambling may be the main activity planned or just one of many activities on the schedule. On these trips, players are more likely to have a vacation budget planned. Once again, it is important to only bring an amount of money you are willing to part with, not money needed to pay bills or for other responsibilities. 

Budgets for these trips should include designated amounts set aside for hotel, food, and entertainment. Gambling funds are a part of the entertainment. Cell phones make time management easier. Alarms and reminders can be set for restaurant reservations and other activities. Responsible gambling starts with knowing and setting your limits.

Gambling responsibly in a locals market

As gambling expands into more states and avenues, it can become more challenging to wager responsibility in one’s hometown. In areas where gambling has been around for a long time, people can easily become numb to gambling and not realize its impact. On the other side, some people are being exposed to gambling for the first time. This creates a bigger challenge when gambling in your own backyard.

Bankroll management is less transparent when gambling becomes a normal part of everyday life. This makes bankroll awareness even more important. There are many strategies available, so it is important to find what works best for you. Two strategies are budgeting gambling as a monthly entertainment expense and keeping gambling funds separate.

Many states have multiple forms of gambling available to visitors and residents. When considering your gambling budget, think of how much you spend on lottery tickets and sports bets, in addition to casino trips, live or simulcast racing wagers, gambling in video lottery bars, and/or online casino games. 

Another strategy is keeping a separate gambling wallet. This can be an actual separate bank account, a cash fund, or carefully documented funds. Money in the gambling wallet is the only money spent on these activities. The wallet is funded with an annual, quarterly, monthly, or weekly amount. Winnings may be kept in the wallet to fund more fun when things are going well, but additional money is not added when it does not. A player waits until the next funding window to start any gambling fun again.

Understand the rules

Casinos, sportsbooks, and lotteries already have an advantage. This makes it essential for players to educate themselves. Casino game rules may vary from state to state, casino to casino, and sometimes from table to table. So, it is important to understand the rules of the game you want to play. Table games like Ultimate Texas Hold’em may require additional wagers for play to continue or side bets may be mandatory.

Sportsbook policies may vary on what happens when a game is delayed. Horse wagering is pari-mutuel in most areas, but some states allow fixed odds. Even lottery rules and payouts may differ based on the jurisdiction where a winning ticket was purchased. 

Take advantage of online tools

One advantage of online gambling is access to responsible gambling tools. A wide range of tools is available at online casinos, lotteries, and sportsbooks. Players can set time limits, deposit limits, wagering limits, and more. These types of help are unavailable in a retail location. Chosen restrictions are effective immediately. However, loosening the restrictions takes additional time. 

Find the help you need

When people ask me about gambling responsibly, I compare it to going on a trip to a Disney theme park or out to the movies with friends. When budgeted appropriately, these are positive activities with fun memories. However, if an activity no longer brings the same happiness, then it is time to look for another one. This is especially true with gambling. 

Multiple resources are available if you or someone you know has a gambling problem. While some states have a separately funded resources line, there are two national organizations that we recommend for those looking for help with a gambling problem. 

The National Council on Problem Gambling has offices across the country. It does not oppose legalized gambling. Its goal is to properly fund services for players that need help. It has a 24-hour helpline. The phone number is 1-800-522-4700. 

Gamblers Anonymous is another national group that helps players with a problem. It created the 20 Questions to ask when deciding if you have a gambling problem. Players whoanswer yes to at least seven questions may need help. Meetings are held throughout the country, even in areas where gambling is not legalized. Find your state on this list and call them to get help now.

Do not hesitate to seek help if you have a gambling problem. You are not alone. These are trained professionals that can help you today at both of the above organizations.

About the Author

Kristina Mehaffey
Kristina was a math teacher for the Clark County School District before joining John with the websites in 2020. While she is not much of a gambler, she enjoys Deuces Wild, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. She prefers the aesthetics of casinos, something shown in the details of the pictures on our sites. When not managing data or writing about casinos, she can be found at her local Las Vegas library, enjoying on one of her many crafting hobbies, or catching a laugh with her husband at a local comedy club.