Being gambling aware keeps you, your family, and your friends safe from the dangers of problem gambling and makes sure that you bet responsibly and safely.
Our guide covers everything you need to know about responsible gambling in the UK, from what it means to where you can get help if you or someone you know has a gambling issue.
What is meant by responsible gambling in the UK?
Responsible gambling is a pretty simple concept – it’s a commitment from online casinos, high-street bookies, and land casinos to keep gamblers safe from the risks that come from betting.
There are many different policies and actions that are involved in responsible gambling, but first and foremost amongst them are:
Preventing underage gambling
Protecting vulnerable gamblers
Keeping gambler’s data private
Securing all betting payments
Marketing that’s ethical
Responsible gambling is directed by legislation passed by the UK government and enforced by gambling regulators.
But while this may all seem like the government is trying to control what people do, it’s with gamblers’ best interests in mind and is geared towards ensuring gambling can be enjoyed responsibly and safely.
What is the legal gambling age in the UK?
You need to be 18 to gamble in the UK – this is the same for both online and offline gambling.
BeGambleAware lists three exceptions to this law, each of which you are allowed to do after you turn 16:
Responsible gambling prevents underage gambling
Gambling is illegal in the UK if you’re under 18 – you’re not allowed to place a bet at an online casino, in bookies, or in a land casino.
Betting organisations prevent underage gambling by requiring people to produce ID before they’re allowed to place a bet. Speaking from experience, many online casinos take a very tough stance on this.
Responsible gambling protects vulnerable gamblers
Vulnerable gamblers are punters who may be susceptible to addiction – something that affects many people, particularly those that have other mental issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Online casinos use a number of tools to protect vulnerable gamblers from addictive behaviour, offering time-outs or blocks on their website that limit people’s betting activity.
Responsible gambling keeps gambler’s data private
People give betting websites a huge amount of personal data – photo ID, proof of address, and bank details are just three examples of this.
A responsible approach to keeping gamblers data private is enforced on gambling sites through GDPR – this is an EU law that regulates how websites handle the personal data of their users.
Responsible gambling secures all betting payments
Whether you’re placing a bet at a high street bookmaker, land casino, or gambling site, the organisation you’ve chosen to place your wager with must keep your money safe.
A responsible online casino uses payment gateways that can be trusted – look out for gambling sites that allow you to use PayPal, VISA, Skrill and the other major options for online deposits and withdrawals.
Responsible gambling uses marketing that’s ethical
Ethical marketing is crucial to responsible gambling in the UK. It ensures that betting companies aren’t able to target vulnerable people and that they must also warn people of the dangers of gambling.
The UK Gambling Commission has clear directions on advertising and the results of it can be seen the advert below from Betfred. In it, the betting company’s co-founder addresses viewers. He explains what people can do to gamble responsibly and who to turn to if they have a gambling problem.
Why is responsible gambling important?
Responsible gambling is enormously important for gamblers. This is for two key reasons.
Firstly, if gambling organisations aren’t set up responsibly then it encourages people to bet irresponsibly.
Secondly, if gamblers bet irresponsibly it can lead to addiction.
While responsible gambling is something that many gamblers can self-manage, there are lots of vulnerable people in the UK who are at risk of developing addictive habits – and many who are already problem gamblers, as the stats below demonstrate:
Gambling addiction is a disease that shapes, directs, and wrecks people’s lives. And while it doesn’t prevent addiction completely, responsible gambling greatly reduces the chance of gamblers being affected by the worst elements of betting.
How online casinos promote responsible gambling in the UK
Responsible gambling is the key duty for online casinos – people using their websites need to be protected from the risks of problem gambling.
There are a number of responsible gambling services that online casinos can offer to keep gamblers safe:
Self-exclusion: you tell the online casino you want to be excluded from their site
Limiting access: online casinos allow you to limit the time you spend gambling
Activity alerts: you’re sent an alert when you’ve been gambling for a certain time
Deposit limits: online casinos limit the amount of money that you can deposit
Time-outs: you block yourself from online casinos for a set amount of time
These steps give people the power to gamble responsibly in the ways that work best for them.
Online casinos that promote responsible gambling in the UK
Every online casino that operates in the UK is subject to the rules and regulations of the UK Gambling Commission. But some online casinos choose to go further than this in promoting responsible gambling.
What responsible online gambling certificates should I look for?
One of the best indicators that you’re using a responsible online casino is are the logos of betting regulators and responsible gambling organisations. The main ones to keep an eye out for are.
Responsible gambling icon no. 1: GamCare
GamCare is a UK charity that offers help to people who think they may have a gambling problem.
You can get in touch with GamCare in the following ways:
Phone: 0808 8020 133
Webchat: GamCare live chat
Responsible gambling icon no. 2: IBAS
IBAS (Independent Betting Adjudication Service) is an organisation that resolves disputes between gamblers and gambling operators.
You can get in touch with IBAS in the following ways:
Phone: 020 7347 5883
Responsible gambling icon no. 3: GAMSTOP
GAMSTOP is a UK gambling self-exclusion scheme that allows you to exclude yourself from online casinos and other gambling sites.
You can get in touch with GAMSTOP in the following ways:
Phone: 0800 138 6518
Webchat: GAMSTOP live chat
Responsible gambling icon no. 4: GBGA
GBGA (Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association) is an association that represents gambling sites that are licensed in Gibraltar.
You can get in touch with GBGA in the following ways:
Phone: + 350 200 68450
Complaints form: GBGA complaints form
Responsible gambling icon no. 5: UK Gambling Commission
Credit: Gambling Commission
The Gambling Commission is responsible for licencing and regulating all gambling activities in the UK.
You can get in touch with the Gambling Commission in the following ways:
Phone: 0121 230 6666
Responsible gambling icon no. 6: Government of Gibraltar
The Government of Gibraltar is the government of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. If an online casino is licensed in Gibraltar then it will ultimately be regulated by the Government of Gibraltar.
You can get in touch with the Government of Gibraltar in the following ways:
Contact: Various contact details for the Government of Gibraltar
Self-exclusion from bookies helps you to gamble responsibly
Self-exclusion is when gamblers choose to be excluded from gambling, from either one or multiple organisations. You’ll then be unable to gamble at any of the places that you’ve selected for a period of time of your choosing.
How do I self-exclude from gambling?
Self-exclusion helps you to gamble responsibly by stopping you from gambling at specific websites or land-based betting organisations.
There are five main websites that allow you to opt for self-exclusion.
GAMSTOP: self-exclusion from UK online casinos
You can self-exclude from UK online casinos by getting in touch with GAMSTOP in the following ways:
Phone: 0800 138 6518
Webchat: GAMSTOP live chat
SENSE: exclusion from UK land casinos
You can self-exclude from UK land casinos by getting in touch with SENSE in the following ways:
Phone: 0203 409 2047
Multi Operator Self Exclusion Scheme: exclusion from UK betting shops
You can self-exclude from UK betting shops by getting in touch with Multi Operator Self Exclusion Scheme in these ways:
Phone: 0800 294 2060
Bacta: exclusion from UK arcades
You can self-exclude from UK arcades by getting in touch with bacta in the following ways:
Phone: 020 7730 6444
Email contact form: bacta email contact form
The BINGO ASSOCIATION: exclusion from UK bingo halls
Credit: The Bingo Association
You can self-exclude from UK bingo halls by getting in touch with The Bingo Association in the following ways:
Phone: 0808 8020 133
Email contact form: The Bingo Association email contact form
How you can stay safe with a responsible gambling fund
Poker is possibly the most popular type of gambling in the world. But poker isn’t just a great game, it’s also a form of betting that can teach you a really valuable lesson about how to gamble responsibly and how to manage your money by keeping a gambling fund.
Poker pros of every level (whether it’s the biggest stars in the world or those starting out) all abide by a simple principle to help them gamble responsibly – bankroll management.
Bankroll management is a simple concept, but it’s one that helps keep gamblers safe.
The basic idea of bankroll management is that you keep the money you’re gambling with separate from the cash you use for the rest of your life.
This might mean that you choose to have separate bank accounts for your betting and everything else. Alternatively, you could create a spreadsheet that keeps you on top of how much you have to spend.
Either way is fine.
What’s important to remember is that by keeping your betting money separate from the cash you use for the rest of your life, you won’t risk eating into the finances you need to be able to live.
It’s why keeping a responsible gambling fund through bankroll management is one of the most sensible things you can do if you like to bet.
Responsible Gambling Week promotes safer gambling in the UK
Responsible Gambling Week is an annual event held in the UK and Ireland to give people the support, tools, and advice they need to gamble responsibly. It began in 2017 and generally happens in November.
The date Responsible Gambling Week is held depends on the year in question – the 2018 version was held from 1 – 7 November, while the 2019 edition ran from 7 – 13 November.
Responsible Gambling Week is led by the UK gambling industry and seeks to spark a conversation between gamblers, people working for gambling organisations, and the general public.
What gambling organisations support Responsible Gambling Week?
Responsible Gambling Week is held once a year in the UK to promote responsible gambling.
It is an industry-led event, with gambling companies of all types supporting the event. The gambling organisations that take part in Responsible Gambling Week include:
What sports organisations support Responsible Gambling Week?
It’s not only gambling organisations and socially-conscious groups that get involved in Responsible Gambling Week. Many large public collectives also show their support for the event, with sports institutions and football clubs among the most high profile to do so.
Some sports organisations and clubs that support Responsible Gambling Week include:
English Football League Championship (EFL) – featuring 24 teams
Racecourse Association (RCA)
British Horseracing Authority (BHA
What do organisations do to support Responsible Gambling Week?
There are many different organisations, collectives, and clubs that show their backing for Responsible Gambling Week.
These organisations support Responsible Gambling Week in a variety of different ways.
For example, some gambling sites, such as Football Index, remove their sponsorship of football clubs and their other partners during Responsible Gambling Week.
Other groups may opt to show their support for Responsible Gambling Week by publicising their backing on their websites.
Who is responsible for helping people with gambling addiction?
Up to 71% of Great Britain’s population gamble each year and while not all of them experience issues, gambling addiction is a problem for millions of people – it’s estimated that two million people are either problem gamblers or at risk of developing a gambling addiction.
The UK government does take a great deal of responsibility for dealing with gambling addiction and it spends between £260 million and £1.16 billion every year tackling it in various ways.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is a registered charity and claims to be the “UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank.”
The IPPR details the annual costs of tackling gambling addiction as follows:
Mental health primary care: £10 – £40 million
Statutory homelessness applications: £10 million – £60 million
Secondary mental health services: £30 million – £110 million
JSA claimant costs and lost labour tax receipts: £40 million – £160 million
Incarcerations: £40 million – £190 million
Hospital inpatient services: £140 million – £610 million
How can people get help with their gambling addiction?
The UK government spends millions of pounds every year on gambling addiction, both in taking preventative measures and dealing with its consequences.
But if you have a problem with gambling addiction, it won’t be your local MP you turn to for help.
There are many organisations (some of which are funded by the UK government) that help people tackle gambling addiction of all levels, and the NHS lists four places you can turn to:
GamCare provides free guidance and counselling to people with a gambling problem.
You can speak to GamCare’s National Gambling Helpline over the phone or receive face-to-face counselling sessions.
How to contact GamCare
Telephone: 0808 8020 133
Website: Various ways of getting in touch with GamCare
National Problem Gambling Clinic
The National Problem Gambling Clinic is an NHS provider that supports problem gamblers and gambling addicts in a range of ways, specifically those who have complex problems.
To get help from this organisation, you need to meet the National Problem Gambling Clinic’s criteria for support.
How to contact the National Problem Gambling Clinic
Telephone: 020 7381 7722
Gordon Moody Association
The Gordon Moody Association is a charity that has been helping people with gambling addiction since 1971.
The charity helps people in two ways:
Residential treatments for people with severe gambling addiction
Its Gambling Therapy website provides support to gamblers
How to contact the Gordon Moody Association
Telephone: 01384 241 292
Gamblers Anonymous UK
Gamblers Anonymous UK uses the same approach to tackling gambling addiction as that adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a support network of counsellors and addicts that offers people the help and guidance they need to tackle their gambling issues.
Friends and family of gambling addicts (or people who have a gambling problem) can also get in touch with GamAnon – this organisation supports the people affected by a loved one’s gambling issues.
How to contact the Gamblers Anonymous UK
Telephone: 0330 094 0322
What laws are there to promote responsible gambling in the UK?
Gambling in the UK is regulated by the Gambling Commission, an executive non-departmental public body of the UK government.
While the Gambling Commission doesn’t create gambling laws in the UK (this is carried out by the UK government) it is responsible for regulating them. This gives it authority over the following UK gambling organisations:
Betting sites and organisations
There is no specific law for promoting responsible gambling but there are a number of UK gambling acts and laws that seek to protect gamblers in the UK, with two having particular relevance:
2005: Gambling Act of 2005 – enforced tighter regulation of gambling operators
2014: Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014 – dealt with loopholes in the Gambling Act of 2005, particularly with regards to online gambling
Gambling is enormously popular in the UK, with nearly three-quarters of adults gambling at least once a year and bookies, online casinos, gambling sites, and bookies, offering a range of betting options
But to enjoy this activity, you need to gamble responsibly.
If you think that you (or someone you know) may have a gambling problem then get in touch with one of the organisations mentioned in this guide and get the appropriate help.