People gamble for numerous reasons: the thrill of predicting a correct outcome, the prospect of winning big, the opportunity to make friends and socialise, and the sense of escapism it brings.
Gambling can make players feel confident, exhilarated and alive. However, for these same reasons, gambling can be addictive and spiral out of control for some people. As with any addiction, when its use becomes compulsive, it can lead players to develop mental health issues, become trapped in a downward financial spiral, and damage relationships with family and friends.
Therefore, it is no surprise that attention to responsible gambling has increased in recent years. For example, Safer Gambling Week was introduced as a cross-industry initiative to promote safer gambling in the United Kingdom and Ireland, whilst Responsible Gambling Awareness Week is held annually in May in Australia to assist those with problem gambling issues. A new survey from the Gambling Commission found that the UK’s attitudes towards gambling had improved in 2022, which is arguably thanks to the industry’s increased attention towards responsible gambling.
Betting companies and casinos are recognising the need to focus on social responsibility in tandem with growth and expansion. Rather than treating problem gambling only after it has developed, as was common in the past, gambling firms, players, governments and regulators now understand that a preventative approach is far more effective at stopping gambling behaviours from getting out of hand and causing issues further down the line. To this end, many companies aim to mitigate gambling risks through improved safeguards, awareness-raising and innovation.
A primary example of this is the use of self-exclusion tools, self-assessment settings and gambling limits. For example, players can control the time and money they spend by using time tracker apps, setting limits on bank accounts, or answering questionnaires before starting a bet. Players can also register with services and software such as GAMSTOP and CyberPatrol to prevent access to gambling sites if they want to restrict their activities.
Whilst these initiatives are a step in the right direction, they also have some flaws. This is because relying on a player’s own self-restraint is not always effective if they have addictive tendencies or a gambling problem already. According to Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University who specialises in behavioural addictions, even when losing while gambling, your body will still be producing adrenalin and endorphins. This explains why gamblers can still get a ‘buzz’ when they lose and may keep coming back for more, even if their behaviour is starting to cause financial strain or issues in their relationships.
As such, it is important for gambling companies to ensure they embed responsible gambling strategies throughout their games. Modifications in game features can help encourage responsible behaviour; for example, some companies have banned features that speed up play or give the illusion that losses are wins. Bookmakers should also ensure that they do not allow access to players under 18 years old and that their advertising campaigns do not aim to attract minors.
Roman Semiokhin is a businessman within the betting industry who advocates for responsible gambling and sees value in continued investment in this area. For example, companies in which Mr Semiokhin has been involved have embraced game feature modifications to ensure they do not target vulnerable or underage players and allow their customers to set gambling limits.
Gambling can be an exciting and fun hobby, but it is important to approach it in a responsible manner. Roman Semiokhin understands that it is the responsibility of both players and bookmakers to ensure this.