Responsible Gaming in the US
While gambling is meant to be a fun recreational activity, it comes with certain risks and dangers attached to it. Every player is at risk of spending too much or becoming addicted to casino games, which can lead to serious problems.
In the US, gambling addiction and problem gambling are recognized as real issues that cannot be ignored, especially not by those who facilitate access to it. Therefore, all licensed casino operators, betting sites, and online poker rooms have to adhere to very strict responsible gaming laws and regulations set in place to protect players and help those struggling.
As we have mentioned many times on these pages, gambling activities in the United States are regulated by state authorities. The regulatory board of every state has the right to enact its own rules that all operators licensed by that particular regulator must adhere to. This extends to responsible gambling as well.
While the rules can and do differ in certain minor aspects, there are certain stipulations that are pretty uniform across the board, regardless of what state(s) an operator offers its services in. This is an overview of responsible gambling measures you can expect to find at most, if not all, US licensed gambling sites.
The first and the most important step in responsible gambling guidelines is ensuring that all customers are of legal age to involve in gambling activities. In most states, this limit is 21, at least when it comes to casino games, poker, and sports betting. Lottery is sometimes available to younger people as well.
Thus, all licensed operators put in a lot of effort and resources to conduct the necessary age verification checks for all new players. During the registration process, users are required to enter their personal information, such as name, surname, place of residence, and last four digits of their SSN.
In most cases, this information is enough for the site to verify your identity, make sure you are who you say you are, and confirm you are of legal age.
However, sometimes the process cannot be completed automatically, and players are asked to provide further proof, such as their photo ID. While this can be annoying at times from the player’s perspective, keep in mind that this is a regulatory requirement for legal US sites, and it is an important step in preventing underage gambling.
Various Player Limits & Restrictions
USA gambling sites also provide a variety of convenient tools that give players a great degree of control over their gambling habits. These often come in a form of self-imposed limits on deposits, losses, or time spent gaming.
Just like the name suggests, this function allows players to restrict the amount of money they can deposit with a casino. Depending on the operator, you could have access to different options, but the principle is always the same.
The player picks the maximum amount of money they are allowed to deposit during a certain period, such as a day, a week, or a month. For example, if you set a $100 weekly limit, the casino will not let you deposit more money until the restriction period expires and the new week begins.
This is an excellent tool to stay in control over your bankroll and it can help you avoid impulsive decisions. Once you hit your limit, the casino will refuse any future deposits. Furthermore, these limits cannot be changed easily. You can increase them, but it will take at least a few days before changes are accepted.
Players can also set up loss limits, which work in a similar fashion. However, instead of limiting deposits, these put a cap on the maximum amount you can lose during any selected period.
Once the player reaches their loss limit, they can no longer play, even if they still have funds in their account. This tool is also useful in preventing rash decisions, such as increasing stakes when things are not going well to try and recoup your losses.
Session Time Limits
While money spent is the most significant part of responsible gambling, it is not the only one. The time someone spends gambling can also become a problem, and licensed US operators are legally bound to address this issue.
The way they usually tackle it is by giving players an opportunity to limit their session times. For example, you can set the maximum amount of hours you can play during a single day, week, or a month. Just like with the other tools, once the limit is reached, you can no longer play until it resets.
With online casinos and sportsbooks now available across multiple devices (phones, tablets, computers, etc.), these time limits help players keep control over the time they spend gambling as it is very easy to lose the track of time while playing slots or table games.
Maximum Bet Limits
Another responsible gambling tool you might come across with some operators is the maximum bet limit. While it is not as strict as the rest on this list, it is very useful for impulsive players who tend to raise their stakes when chasing their losses.
In the simplest of terms, this limit will not allow you to place a single wager over a certain amount. For example, if you put the limit at $2, your maximum bet per spin on slot machines will be $2. On table games like roulette, you will only be able to bet $2 per round.
Other Responsible Gambling Tools & Services
While the tools mentioned above certainly help players have better control over their gaming habits, there are other regulations operators must adhere to if they want to keep their license and operate in accordance with gaming laws.
Timed Reality Checks
Reality checks are in place to ensure players do not get carried away too much during their gambling sessions. Every hour or two hours, there will be a popup window, warning players of the time they spent gambling and asking them if they wish to continue.
This particular tool may not be as effective as some other ones, but it still serves its purpose. By reminding players that they spent an X amount of time on the site, operators help with time management issues, which, as mentioned, can be a big problem in some cases.
Even for players who do not have a gambling problem, taking breaks every now and again can be a good idea, and it can definitely help prevent some serious issues developing down the line.
The timeout option provided by most US sites gives players an opportunity to restrict themselves from accessing the site for a certain amount of time. This can be one or two days, a week, a full month, or even longer.
Once the timeout is in place, players cannot use their accounts to play any games. This is a great option to use after a big win, for example, as players can use it to ensure they withdraw their winnings instead of losing them back to a casino. It is also quite useful during bad stretches as it allows you to take the time away and gain a better perspective of things instead of continuing to chase your losses.
For those players who really struggle to get their gambling under control and all other measures do not help, there is also the self-exclusion facility.
Gambling sites will let you self-exclude at any point, but once you do it, there is no coming back. This is a non-reversible measure, and once you decide to self-exclude from an operator, they are not legally allowed to let you open your account again.
In some states, there are also state-wide self-exclusion lists. Players can put their names and personal information on these lists voluntarily, and this will prevent them from accessing any gambling facilities licensed in the state.
Giving Back to the Community
As a part of their responsible gambling efforts and obligations, all licensed US operators also give back a part of their proceeds to help the communities they operate in. Exact taxation rules vary from one state to another, but pretty much all licensed gambling sites give a percentage of their income to support certain causes.
In most cases, this money goes towards health and education, as these are two very important sectors that are notoriously underfunded across the US. Some of the money is also allocated to various responsible gambling groups and organizations that offer help and support to those who need it.
What Is Problem Gambling?
As mentioned, gambling is usually a fun activity that people engage in occasionally to pass some time and try their luck. However, it can also develop into a serious problem, especially because early signs of problem gambling are difficult to spot.
Generally speaking, gambling is defined as problematic once it starts putting financial, emotional, and other strains on a person. If someone starts spending more than they can afford or they gambling habits start influencing other aspects of their lives (personal and professional), it is a big red flag that something is not right.
While it is still often regarded as taboo, gambling addiction and problem gambling are real and serious issues that require professional help. It is crucial to understand that if you or someone you know is experiencing these problems, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help from those who can provide it. Also, one of the first steps on the path of recovery is to isolate yourself from gambling by using tools such as self-exclusion.
How to Get Help for Problem Gaming in the US?
There are numerous organizations in the US devoted to providing help to those who struggle with gambling problems. Several major ones operate on the federal level and are open to people from all states, namely:
- The National Council on Problem Gambling
- Gamblers Anonymous
There are also numerous state-level organizations that you can reach out for assistance at any time. These are always completely free and often let you remain anonymous, at least initially. There are various ways to get in touch, including phone and email. If you feel like you need help, do not be afraid to reach out in any way you feel the most comfortable with.
How do US casinos verify that I am old enough to gamble?
All licensed US operators have measures in place to ensure all players are of the legal age to gamble. This includes collecting the relevant personal info and comparing it to a national database. If this procedure does not work, the operator will ask you to provide a photo ID to prove your age and identity.
Do US gambling sites allow players to set deposit limits?
Yes, all legal US gambling sites give players an opportunity to set deposit limits. What this means is that you will only be allowed to deposit a certain amount of money during the predefined period. Once that amount is exceeded, you will not be able to add additional funds.
Can I take a timeout from playing on a licensed US casino or sportsbook?
Yes, with a majority of operators, you will have an option to take a timeout. You can find this option in your account section, where you can pick the duration of the timeout (usually between 24 hours and one month). Once the timeout is activated, you will no longer be able to access your account to play games or place bets.
Is it possible to set a loss limit when gambling on a US-licensed site?
Yes, some US operators give you an option to set a loss limit on your play. If you reach the limit, the casino or the bookmaker will refuse to accept any further bets. You will be able to play again once the time period for the loss limit expires.
How can I be sure all games are really fair and random?
All legal US sites are licensed by local authorities that perform regular checks. For a casino to continue operating, they must pass these checks, which includes proving that their games are truly fair, random, and not rigged in any way.