While gambling in moderation is possible for the majority of players at online casinos, there are some people who find the very nature of gambling to be highly addictive.
A gambling addiction can quickly spiral out of control with afflicted players chasing their losses or betting beyond their means. Many people struggle with compulsive gambling and have a difficult time controlling their impulses to gamble, causing both personal and financial problems if left unmanaged.
If you think you or someone you know might be at risk or is currently experiencing problem gambling, know you are not alone and there are plenty of resources that can help.
Having the proper tools to understand what problem gambling is and how to determine if someone may be affected, is the first step to seeking help and combating gambling addiction.
Our guide to problem gambling will cover:
- What is responsible gambling?
- Why is responsible gambling important?
- What is problem gambling? How to recognize signs of addictive behavior.
- What responsible gambling tools and resources are available?
- State-by-state information on problem gambling hotlines and addiction help.
What Is Responsible Gaming?
Responsible Gaming is a broad-brush term used to describe the various initiatives at online gambling sites that are put in place to protect players from potentially harmful problem gambling behaviors.
Examples of Responsible Gaming Measures:
- Offering tools on the casino site or app, such as Time Limits or Deposit Limits, which allow players to set limits on how much time they can spend on the site or how much money they can deposit
- Providing resources, including educational information about gambling responsibly and hotline phone numbers for those that may be struggling with compulsive gambling
- Behind-the-scenes warning systems that use psychiatry and complex algorithms to flag accounts that show signs of problem gambling behavior
These tools and resources are designed to educate and empower players to gamble responsibly and to prevent problem gambling. All legal online gambling companies will have responsible gaming initiatives as a core part of what they do and how they offer games.
State regulators are also big advocates of responsible gaming and offer services to help players who might be exhibiting signs of addiction. More than that, the regulators actually require that operators have responsible gaming systems in place in order to retain their licenses. The regulators conduct checks and audits and hold every legal online casino, poker room or sportsbook accountable for its responsible gambling efforts.
What Is Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling is when you experience difficulty controlling your gambling impulses and think you might have become addicted to online casino games or any other service or game offered by an online gambling operator.
It is important to always only bet what you can afford to lose, not chase your losses and not let gambling detrimentally affect your life, socially or financially.
Thanks to the research and efforts by Gamblers Anonymous we can bring to you a set of questions designed to help identify problem gambling behaviors.
Have a go at answering these below questions honestly and, if you answer at least 7 questions with “yes”, please seek professional help — helpful links for problem gambling resources and hotline phone numbers can be found down below.
Questions To Ask Yourself
Remember, if you cheat the answers, you are only cheating yourself, so answer as honestly as possible.
Here is a condensed version of the Gamblers Anonymous questions:
- Has time slipped away from you at your place of work or at school because you were gambling?
- Has gambling affected you emotionally, making you feel unhappy?
- Has your reputation ever been negatively affected due to your wagering habits?
- Have you ever felt guilty about gambling?
- Has gambling taken your focus away from other priorities in life?
- Have you ever gambled to make money for a financial problem?
- Do you find yourself chasing your losses?
- Immediately after a win, do you have the urge to gamble more?
- Have you ever borrowed money to fund your betting habits?
- Have you ever sold personal items to get money to gamble with?
- Have you gambled when you said you wouldn’t?
- Have you ever gambled as a means to escape from emotional turmoil?
- Do you lose sleep over your gambling habits?
- Do you ever consider participating in illegal activities to raise funds for gambling?
- Do you argue about gambling with loved ones?
- Do you think of ways to break free from addictive behavior?
Online gambling on casino games is legal in six states in the United States: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Jump to the relevant state via our navigation bar on the left or scroll down to find helpful resources that include numbers to confidential problem gambling hotlines, website links to further resources, and ways to self-exclude.
If you do not live in a state where gambling is legal you can still seek help. Go to Gamblers Anonymous or call them for free 24/7 on 800-GAMBLER.
Self-Exclusion & What It Means
For those of you who don’t know what self-exclude means, it is a way to stop your gambling by contacting the state regulator, who will then contact the casinos (both live and online) telling them that they must not let you play at their site. You can self-exclude from an online casino for a varying amount of time, from one month to multiple years to a lifetime. These options vary state-to-state.
For those seeking emotional support for gambling issues, you can do so via the helpline info provided. Self-exclusion is a sure-fire way of immediately blocking ways for you to spend money at online casinos.
For resources that might be useful, like worksheets on how to manage your money, how to keep a gambling diary and why that might be useful, as well as how to build a support network. For free downloadable worksheets and other helpful information and resources, visit the GamCare website where their self-help resources are free to use and download.
If you want to self-exclude at an online poker room, go to our sister site Poker Shield for resources.
Responsible Gambling & Addiction Help, By State
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection offers a self-exclusion program for those people wishing to exclude themselves from playing casino games live or online. Links on how to do this can be found below. As seen in other states, you can self-exclude for 1 or 5 years, including the option to ban yourself for a lifetime.
In addition, there is a problem gambling hotline — 888-789-7777 — that you can call to speak to a counselor and it is completely free to do so. The online chat services are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week if you would rather not pick up a phone. Conversations are confidential and you can remain anonymous if you wish.
You can call DE Problem Gambling — which is free, confidential, and open 24/7 at 888-850-8888 — or alternatively, you can text them at 302-438-8888 or use their online chat function. All calls, texts, and chats are free and confidential. Text and chat are available Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. The organization also provides free and confidential treatment services for family members of people that are addicted or those suffering from gambling problems.
Support groups are also running now over Zoom.
To self-exclude in Delaware, click on the links provided below — you have to fill out the form online and then submit it in person to the Delaware Lottery Office during office hours Monday to Friday. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, appointments are required, so please call the Delaware Lottery Office in Dover at (302) 739-5291 to make an appointment.
As with the other states mentioned, you can self-exclude for 1 year, 5 years, or a lifetime. By self-excluding, it will stop you from participating in gambling activities at the Casino at Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino, along with their online counterparts. Those that self-exclude are also banned from participating in the state lottery.
Michigan has a problem gambling helpline, which you can call anytime to start on the road to recovery. Below, we have also linked to the self-exclusion form and links to resources provided by the Michigan Health and Human Services.
When you click through, you will see information referring to “Disassociated Person’s”. Don’t be confused or afraid of this term. It is just the terminology used in Michigan to describe someone who would like to self-exclude from — or no longer be associated with — an online or brick-and-mortar casino.
If you go to fill out the form, you will see instructions to call the Compulsive Gamblers Helpline at 1-800-270-7117 before you go any further — so we recommend you go ahead and ring them straight away, so they can walk you through the next steps. The helpline is toll-free, confidential, one-on-one, and open 24/7.
By following the links below you will be able to self-exclude from online and live casinos in New Jersey. The allotted self-exclusion periods are one year, five years, or lifetime. You can choose between self-excluding from online wagering only or for both live and online casino games.* You can do this by following the links online, or by going in person to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement located in Atlantic City.
When you file the form, you will be required to provide identification, and you will be photographed, so please bear this in mind before attending.
Detailed steps can be found by following the self-exclusion link below.
Unfortunately, you can not self-exclude on behalf of anyone else. It has to be done by the person who wants to be stopped from playing live or online.
After you self-exclude, either a photo of you will be circulated to all of the casinos in the state, so they can stop you from entering, or if banning yourself from online games, your player account info will be shared with the online casinos, so they do not take your wagers.
Remember: You are not alone. There are more than 45 Gamblers Anonymous meetings in New Jersey every week. To find out where the nearest meeting is and when visit Gamblers Anonymous. Alternatively you can also call 800-GAMBLER — a hotline that can give you or a loved one confidential assistance 24/7.
Quickly access links to self-exclude from online casinos in PA below. You can self-exclude in PA for one year, five years, or you can choose a lifetime ban. Over in PA, you can only self-exclude yourself. You cannot do this for a loved one.
Below, there are direct links to take you straight to the self-exclusion form, but if you want to know more about the process, you can go to the Responsible Play PA website, which is also linked up below. Over 16,000 PA residents have already chosen to self-exclude, so you are definitely not alone.
If you need to speak to someone right away, call the helpline set up by the state regulator the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. There they will, in detail, answer any questions you might have on the self-exclusion process. For example, it will tell you all the ways you can self-exclude. If you don’t want to fill in the online form, you can schedule an appointment with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board directly. The website will also tell you what to do if you change your mind and wish to have your permission to gamble reinstated.
Since 2000, The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia has helped over 15,000 people to overcome their gambling problems. They have over 70 therapists all within WV who can help. Their helpline is open 24/7 and you will be treated with the utmost care. All calls are free and confidential.
Once you get through, you will have all your questions answered. There is provision to give you immediate crisis counseling as well as resources to assist you in helping a loved one who may also be struggling with the effects of your addiction. The agent on the phone will also give you treatment options, which include a free in-person consultation with a therapist and access to support groups. Support whilst you navigate recovery from your addiction is also available.
If you aren’t ready to call, you can set up an appointment via the website for someone to call you back.
To self-exclude in West Virginia, you need to write to the West Virginia Lottery to be added to the exclusion list at the address below. You must ask them, in writing, to self-exclude you from any online and live casinos in the state.
West Virginia Lottery
900 Pennsylvania Ave,
If you wish to be removed from the self-exclusion list, you must write to the Lottery asking to be removed. If you want to seek advice before writing your letter, you can call the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia or call the West Virginia Lottery on 800-982-2274.