Problem gambling has always been a massive issue in land-based casinos and bingo halls. Now that there are over 350 online gaming bingo sites, the flaws of irresponsible gambling could be an imminent danger on our hands if left unchecked.
Gambling firms have had their guns drawn ready to tackle this issue, as having it under control is part of the legal obligations that come with gambling statutes. Online gaming sites and operators are no different.
They must curb the ills of problem gambling. They’re required by law to partner up with several accredited responsible gambling advocates such as GamCare and BeGambleAware.
For this reason, iGaming sites tackle out of control gambling cases or rather prevent them on two levels through a set of responsible gaming measures:
- Internal measures and
- External measures
Let’s have a quick look at the internal responsible gambling mechanisms that online gaming sites employ.
Employee Training and Development
The staff that works for online gaming sites, especially the customer support teams, are the point of contact between the online game operators and their punters.
Gaming sites train their support staff on responsible gaming and develop their skills continually to ensure they have a third eye as far as problem gambling goes.
The training equips customer agents with a wealth of responsible gambling knowledge, such as identifying and arresting possible problem gambling risk indicators. The telltale signs of problematic gambling include:
- Players exhibiting abnormal frequency, duration, and intensity in their gameplay. For example, a bettor might show significant changes in their expenditure pattern where they expend £300+ in one gambling session.
- It could also be a case of impaired control where a punter obsesses over getting bonus funds and spins or gaining more loyalty points where the gaming site has a loyalty rewards plan or promotions.
- Some irresponsible gambling indicators also take the form of irrational social behaviors and emotional attributes such as players verbalizing rude, impolite, angry, depressive utterances when communicating with support. Or finding themselves in the red, deep in a losing streak, and blaming the gaming site for their losses.
Not only will train support staff to have what it takes to spot a case of problem wagering, but they’ll also have the necessary skills to neutralize the impending issue before the situation escalates and gets out of hand.
Prohibiting Underage Gambling
No online gaming site wants minors, meaning players below 18 years old, wagering on their platform, let alone playing the freebies in free entry bingo rooms. To ensure no underage punters end up gambling online, gaming sites ask all bettors for verification documents during the registration process.
Players must provide their details, including full official names, a residential address, and birthdate details. Most gaming sites go ahead to demand proof of residential information by requesting that players provide proof of residences such as a recent (within the last three months) utility bill, payslip (if you’re employed), or bank statement.
Additionally, bettors must furnish their valid identification credentials like an ID or passport to the gaming site to verify that they’re who they say they’re. Account verification is mandatory before playing any online games, making it virtually impossible for minors to ever get past the account sign-up stage.
Some minors are cheeky and might try to use their parent’s accounts to access the online numbers games. Luckily, gaming sites also have parental control services where adults can use tools like Net Nanny, CYBERsitter, Gam Block, or Bet Filter to prevent minors from accessing online gambling.
Deposit Limits and Loss Limits
A good number of gaming sites have reasonably low minimum deposit amounts for players to either activate the welcome offer package or kick off their real money gameplay.
Some sites like OK Bingo have a minimum allowable top-up of £10, while the likes of Bingo All-stars allow account holders in Canada to deposit as much as $2500. There are cases where online gaming sites such as Mighty Jackpots permit as much as £10,000 per transaction.
The problem with enabling punters to work with such significant figures is that some players could find themselves on a wagering spree and end up blowing excessive amounts on online bets.
To ensure this eventuality doesn’t occur, online gaming sites have a deposit limit feature. The player can activate it voluntarily or request customer support to set an appropriate deposit limit on their behalf. Deposit limits can be permanent or reversible. Loss limits work in a much similar way and prevent players from losing their entire bankroll.
Online gaming sites have the sole discretion to invoke deposit and loss limits if they deem it the right thing to do for the sake of the player’s responsible gambling.
An Exclusion means stepping away from the gaming site for a while to take some time off online games and gambling as a whole. Players can self-initiate exclusion, but gaming sites can also activate the player exclusion feature if they feel the need to do so. Examples of online gaming exclusion strategies include:
- Self-exclusion by the player for a specific period, say, 3-6 months
- Time-outs where the gaming site enables punters to take a 24 hour or 6-week break from gambling
- Reality checks: online gambling customers use the reality check function to set online gaming session timers and time restrictions. When the time lapses, the player can either choose to continue or exit the gaming site or take a break.
The external responsible gaming methods that online gaming sites use mainly involve partnering with responsible gaming platforms to give severe problem gambling bettors a way out and options for anonymously finding professional help.
Some of these speciality problem gambling institutions are:
- GamCare Website: www.gamcare.org.uk UK National Helpline: 0808 8020 133
- Gamblers Anonymous Website: www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk
- GambleAware Website: www.begambleaware.org UK National Helpline: 0808 8020 133 National
- Problem Gambling Clinic Website: www.cnwl.nhs.uk Urgent Advice Line: 0800 0234 650
- Big Deal Website: www.bigdeal.org.uk
- Gordon Moody Website: www.gordonmoody.org.uk
Other than internal and external responsible gambling measures, online gaming sites must exercise responsible marketing practices such as avoiding TV ads before watershed hours to prevent the enticing of underage gambling. They should also set aside part of their ad spend for responsible gambling messaging.
These are some of the current problem gambling strategies in play at most bingo sites, but who knows what future bingo trends hold for responsible gambling.