There’s actually nothing wrong with online gambling per say. It’s a great way to pass some fun time and relax. However, like in everything else in life, when it’s out of proportion it becomes a bad and even dangerous habit. When it reaches such a level, people start pointing fingers. Some people blame the gambler himself, some blame platforms providers, some blame the government for not doing enough in terms of legislations and some blame the society for not referring to this issue enough. In general the whole pointing fingers approach is not my personal favorite, for the simple reason that it doesn’t solve any problem and doesn’t help reducing the negative consequences that are caused by this issue. I personally prefer to go with taking responsibility not as a ‘fault’ but as a ‘role to play’.
Responsibilities and Roles:
When you refer to a responsibility as a role someone takes upon himself it immediately turns this concept into an active and productive one. You’re not looking for people to be hanged; you simply ask that people will act in order to improve the situation. To do that you need to look into the circles of influence. ‘Circles of influence’ means different levels of individuals or groups that are influenced by or are influencing something. In this case we might consider following:
- The online gambler
- The gambler’s family
- Games providers
- The close and general community of the gambler
- Legislations bodies – government, The international internet society
You can probably think of several others, but these are the main ones that come to mind. Now that we have this mapped out it’s easier to try and understand which role each of them should be taking under their responsibility. Going from the larger scale ones to the smaller:
If we’ll look on a high level only we can say that: the legislations bodies need to make sure there are laws that make sure the addicted gambler is protected and that no one takes advantage of his condition. The community of the gambler is responsible to provide supporting groups and educational support. The games provider is responsible to provide preventive information and maybe even actively help to avoid reaching critical levels of addiction. The gambler’s family is responsible to identify the problem in time and actively try to stop it from deteriorate and of course, the gambler himself is responsible to try and avoid reaching an addictive level and if reached, try and do everything possible to snap out of it.
Let’s take this to a deeper level with one of the circles mentioned above – the Games providers. In order to demonstrate just how far, help from this circle can reach, I’ll use an example of one of the sites I’m in contact with – Winnings. which did not stop with simply placing a link to an addiction support organization from their footer, like many other online gambling sites do. They’ve decided to take an active part in helping people to avoid becoming addicted and in helping to minimize the damage if they did become addicted. To name just a few of their tools for helping players:
- They have a ‘Self Exclusion’ option that if a player activates, his account is closed for good or paused for 1/3/6 months. This cannot be undone once activated.
- They maintain a ‘Deposit limit’ policy in which a player can set himself a max limit on a daily and/or weekly basis.
- Full disclosure – in Winnings.com all of the player’s account information is available to that player all the way back to his first deposit. Any player can know exactly how much he spent and when.
As you can see, a game provider can become an active participant in helping preventing gambling to deteriorate into an addiction and all this without harming their business strategy or revenue. In this I’ll finish and say that I urge every games provider out there to learn from this and apply in your site. With small steps taken by many, much can be achieved.
Karl Angus is an online gaming specialist that has been engaged in minimizing gambling addiction for the past few years. You can play safely at WSOP website.