Which bookmaker is the most responsible?
Bookmakers And Responsible Gambling
It’s become almost impossible today to watch, attend or listen to a sporting or racing event without being met with a procession of online sports betting promotions. While online betting becomes increasingly popular, advocates of responsible gambling have likewise become more aggressive in promoting their cause.
In this month’s bookmaker analysis we decided to take a look at what bookmakers offer in terms of responsible gambling protections, tools and resources and what else they could offer customers to give them the best chance of keeping their betting on the straight and narrow.
There was very little to distinguish between the 27 bookmakers in this analysis, with the majority providing similar tools and resources for customers who may be experiencing issues with their gambling. In this article, we will detail each of the common features available to problem gamblers.
Each bookmaker in our analysis offers deposit limits, giving bettors the opportunity to restrict their deposits to a given sum over a selected period of time. Bookmakers allow their customers to impose deposit limits over periods of 24 hours, 7 days and 30 days. In most cases bettors can lower their chosen deposit limit, however, limits can only be raised after a given period of time. For example, bet365 customers must wait a period of 7 days before their deposit limits can be raised.
Setting deposit limits is not only a good idea for bettors who are concerned with their gambling losses, but it can also be a great way for weekend punters to ensure their gambling stays within their budget. For example, if you only want to bet £50 each weekend, then imposing a £50 limit over a 7 day period is a good way to start.
If deposit limits are not enough, self-exclusion is worth considering. While there is always the option of closing your account, self-exclusion allows you to suspend your account for a given period of time. For example, bet365 allows customers to suspend their accounts for periods of six months, one year, two years, five years, or the most drastic of all, account closure. Each bookmaker in our study offers both short term and long term self-exclusion.
While most bookmakers allow customers to log into your account to withdraw funds during the exclusion period, customers will not be able to place bets. If your gambling is causing you concerns, we would recommend beginning with deposit limits and graduating to a term of self-exclusion if you feel your wagering is becoming too reckless.
Time Online Alarm
We all know how the internet can eat our time. You check your email, maybe Facebook and next thing you know you’re down a Youtube rabbit hole and your whole afternoon has gone. To this end, often referred to as ‘Reality Check’, an increasing number of bookmakers now allow users to set an alarm to notify them when they have been logged into their betting account for a certain time period. As with deposit limits, once a time has been set, users cannot change the frequency of their alerts until a given time period has elapsed.
Setting an alert is certainly a great way to inhibit your, shall we say, more speculative betting. Anyone who loves betting knows how easy it is to log into their account, fall into a deep dive, exploring odds and markets for sports and leagues the world over, many of which even the most astute punters would admit to having little genuine insight. Most bettors have a narrow frame of expertise, and imposing an alarm can only help keep you focused and wagering on the markets you know best.
In virtually every guide to better betting that we have published, time and time again, we recommend keeping a detailed history of your bets. It doesn’t matter what sports, leagues or markets you bet on, keeping a record of your wagering will not only help improve your betting returns but it can likewise help you avoid developing the habits of erratic betting. With this in mind, it’s encouraging to see that all bookmakers offer detailed betting histories (as well as deposit histories), giving their customers the ability to examine their wagering tendencies.
While a bet history provided by your preferred bookmaker is certainly helpful, the best way to improve your betting returns and keep a steady eye on your betting habits is by creating your own detailed betting history spreadsheet. We recommend keeping specifics such as date, bet sum, bet type, details of the wager, the result and importantly, space to comment on the bet. Most of all it’s important to keep a record of your mind frame when placing the bet. Were you chasing losses? Were you betting on a sport or league simply because there was nothing else to bet on that evening? Were you exceeding your usual bet stake by a large degree? After only a few months of betting, you’ll often see that the bulk of your losses are due to poor discipline. A detailed bet history can help you correct that.
A number of bookmakers offer their customers the opportunity to conduct a self-evaluation. This typically involves customers answering a series of questions and providing them with an independent assessment. Any self-evaluation questionnaire will ask customers questions such as:
- Why do you gamble?
- How do you feel when you run out of betting funds?
- Have you ever lied about the amount of money you gamble?
- Do you chase your losses after a losing bet?
- Would you rather gamble than spend time with friends?
- How does your gambling impact your mood?
If you are experiencing issues with your gambling, we thoroughly recommend taking a self-evaluation test either through your bookmaker or one offered via external responsible gambling sites.
Responsible Gambling Guides
It’s great to see that all bookmakers now provide their customers with detailed guides to responsible gambling, detailing their responsible gambling tools as well as providing links to external responsible gambling resources. If you have any concerns regarding your betting, it’s good to know that your bookmaker has resources available as well as links to responsible gambling bodies.
While it’s encouraging to see bookmakers take the issue of responsible gambling seriously, if you are experiencing issues with your gambling and are concerned that it may be getting out of hand, we recommend contacting responsible gambling bodies external to your bookmaker. Bookmakers offer introductory information but responsible gambling authorities such as GambleAware in the UK can put you in touch with counselling services offering you ongoing support.
So what else can be done? We recommend that bookmakers provide not only responsible gambling tools and resources but also detailed guides on the fundamentals of wagering discussing topics such as betting odds and probabilities, how betting odds are framed, what are bookmaker margins and how much to bet to name just a few. Providing customers with responsible gambling resources and tools is a good start, but we regard a responsible gambler as a gambler that truly understands the dynamics of betting, the risks involved and just how difficult it is to be an ongoing profitable punter.
While it’s encouraging to see bookmakers provide customers with responsible gambling tools and resources, ultimately it is the responsibility of each bettor to bet with discipline and to control their wagering.
No matter what protections bookmakers provide, they can only go so far and it is up to the customer to recognise when their gambling is getting out of hand and to seek help sooner rather than later.