Stay In Control

Recognise and manage problem gambling.

Recognising a Gambling Problem

Betting on sport, slots and table games can be an exhilarating pursuit.

However, it can quickly go from being a fun, harmless form of entertainment to an unhealthy obsession that has serious consequences. Anyone can develop a gambling problem, regardless of age, gender or financial status.

People with a gambling problem often feel an urge to bet continuously, in spite of the harmful, negative consequences it is causing. Some feel an uncontrollable impulse to gamble and they cannot force themselves to stop.

Some of the most common warning signs to consider as an individual:

It also helps to be aware of the people closest to you if concerned about possible gambling dependency:

About Gambling Addiction

Gambling can be addictive. To some it provides escapism and triggers emotional reward chemicals and physical reactions similar to drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, drug use or exercise.

Research indicates gambling addiction can be inherited. So if a family member had an addiction to gambling, the chances of a child or dependent following the same path as an adult are higher.

For some, gambling will not be suitable, in the same way other addictive pursuits will not be. These individuals will always be at risk from addictive activities, substances and traits regardless of the sensible messaging, education tools and other resources available.

It is important to understand gambling triggers, to decipher the need over simple entertainment and to be aware of why and when people gamble and for what purpose. This is different from other factors that can cause someone to gamble more (time and/or money spent) than intended.

The ability to control impulses and reactions to targeted marketing messages, to utilize sensible practices and to seek help if necessary is crucial in many facets of life. Gambling is no different.

Preventing and Managing a Gambling Problem

Track your spending

You should always keep a record of the time you spend and money that you spend gambling.

Many betting sites offer a bet tracking service within the “My Account” section. It allows you to view the amount you have won and lost over a particular period of time.

A number of more seasoned players like to have accounts with multiple bookmakers. After all, they all have different strengths and weaknesses: some offer more attractive odds, others have more markets to choose from, some have a better in-play offering, some provide better bonuses, and so on.

This can make it harder to track your spending, so you should create your own betting diary.

Keep it constantly updated, making a note of how long you spent betting, how much you staked and your profit or loss.

Responsible gambling is all about setting limits – how often you bet, how much you wager and when you are prepared to walk away. A bet diary will help you stay within these limits, and there are a number of free diary and budgeting apps and other resources you can benefit from.

Taking Time Out

You can contact most betting sites via customer service or use the tools in the “My Account” section of your online account and ask to take time out for a set period of time, which could be anywhere from an hour to several weeks.

During this period of time, your account will be suspended, you will receive no marketing from the operator, and you will be unable to make deposits or place any bets.

You will not be able to reactivate your account until the chosen period has ended.


You can choose to exclude yourself from the websites, betting shops, casinos and racetracks that you frequent in order to manage a gambling problem.

All licensed gambling companies must have their own self-exclusion arrangements, and they must also sign up to multi-operator schemes which pass this information through a regulator and to other gambling platforms.

GAMSTOP is a scheme that allows you to exclude yourself from all online gambling companies in Great Britain for a period of six months, one year or five years.

Bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betway, 888, BetVictor and many more of the biggest gambling companies all participate in the scheme.

You provide your personal details and bookmakers must stop sending you any marketing materials. If you move to a new house, you can let GAMSTOP know.

The ultimate responsibility for sticking to the self-exclusion scheme lies with those that register for it. However, operators must take reasonable steps to stop you gambling during that exclusion period, and they will do all they can to detect and close any new accounts you may open.

Setting Deposit Limits

Another option is to set a limit on the amount you are able to deposit into your account at an online betting site on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Research has suggested that gambling problems are greatly reduced among people that decide on how much money they have available before they start betting.

Once you set a deposit limit with a betting site, it cannot be overridden. You can decrease your deposit limits at any time and it will be applied immediately. If you wish to increase a limit, you will often have to wait 24 hours before the request is processed.

This gives you plenty of time to think about whether that is a sensible decision, and it prevents you from immediately chasing a loss.

Blocking Gambling Transactions Via Your Bank

If you are concerned that you are not able to gamble responsibly a further tool is now readily available to you directly from your bank if you are in the UK.

Since October 2019 and the launch of the Card Control initiative in the UK via ongoing consultation with the UK Gambling Commission several banks have acted swiftly to provide a “block” or “freeze” facility via their own platforms. Customers can opt to block all gambling type transactions with their debit and credit cards online to betting and gaming operators and premium line type operators.

You will need to contact your bank directly to avail of this service either online or in person – terms and conditions vary with each bank or lender but any decision taken and confirmed can be set up permanently or at a very minimum is irreversible during a pre-determined cooling off period – usually 48 hours.

During such time of a block or freeze in place any attempted payments or deposits to be made with your credit or debit cards from that bank to a betting or gaming operator will be blocked instantly.

Banks and lending operators to have made this tool available so far include: ( the list is subject to change )

  • Barclays
  • HSBC
  • Halifax
  • Monzo
  • Starling
  • BOS
  • MBNA
  • Lloyds
  • Natwest ( gambling related counselling in branch at certain times is also available )

Naturally more operators will also make this available in due course and the best course of action is to contact your bankers directly if you wish to use this service rather than choose to self-exclude or close your account directly with your gaming and betting providers.

Eventually, technology should help bettors protect themselves as well as allow them to make a mobile bet.

Currently, however, there are no financial institutions in the United States that allow bettors to block transactions or set self-exclusion parameters for credit or debit cards. Progress is being made in mature gambling markets in Europe, however, with companies like Monzo making it easier for bettors to protect themselves.

For now, self-exclusion in the US is in most cases done through sportsbooks, but there are numerous sources of information for finding out how, including the National Council on Problem Gambling. Some states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey also have their own programs.

For now, self-exclusion in the US is in most cases done through sportsbooks, but there are numerous sources of information for finding out how, including the National Council on Problem Gambling. Some states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey also have their own programs.