I refuse to have any gambling links on my site for a reason, because I would never want to be the reason that someone became addicted to gambling or lost more than they could afford.
Do I gamble myself? Yes I do sometimes, I play the National Lottery and I have occasionally played on gambling sites to receive cashback on cashback sites. I don’t spend more than the cash back that I’ll be receiving, so in that sense there’s no real risk but I wouldn’t recommend it to others anyway.
On every gambling site I have been on, they have big notices about ‘responsible’ gambling, mostly I think due to pressure from the government and charities who support those with gambling addictions. Some of the sites allow you to voluntarily block yourself from their site for a certain period of time. So if you do feel like you might have a problem, then hopefully you can take it in hand and stop yourself from using those sites.
They don’t all make this as easy to do as they could. Some are amazing and from what I can see it can be done online simply, which to me means they are encouraging responsible gambling at least. Others however, want it in writing or for you to phone them. Not ideal really if it has taken you a huge amount of effort to just decide to try to stop, that additional step of ringing could prevent you from doing it.
If they want to claim to be encouraging only responsible gambling and prove that they aren’t just popping that on their sites to look good or comply with any rules/laws, then they should make the ability to block yourself from the sites a lot easier in my opinion.
Obviously there are a lot of people in the world who do gamble and aren’t addicted and don’t have an issue, but for the ones who do have an issue or rather an addiction, avoiding gambling is made even harder than it needs to be. Not only by the companies making it harder than necessary to block yourself from gambling.
But also by sending constant mailings out, often with no return address to stop them. When doing the gambling for the cashback that I did, I always ticked or unticked to avoid mailings and text messages. That didn’t stop it though. In the past 2 weeks I have had FIVE cards come through my door with gambling codes and offers on them asking me to come back to them.
Some in recent months have even been from sites that I have never been on in my life, who aren’t linked officially to any of the sites that I had been on. So clearly somewhere along the line gambling sites are passing on details and targeting people.
I’ve received so many text messages and have been blocking numbers, I’ve had phone calls from the companies offering me special codes for discounts if I come back and gamble on their sites. I actually really regret gambling at all now, not because I have a problem as luckily I don’t, but because I feel hounded.
Now imagine this hounding … but imagine the person being hounded IS someone with an addiction. Imagine trying to beat your addiction, but having companies trying to drag you back in, all whilst claiming to encourage ‘responsible’ gambling.
Adding to this even more is that gambling adverts are all over the place these days. Not just in the expected places, but on newspaper websites, in adverts on a ridiculous number of websites of all different types and even on a supermarket website. Yep you did read that right.
I did my food shop on Iceland this evening and as soon as my order was placed a pop-up appeared on my screen asking me if I would like to join Iceland Bingo. Personally I would have thought that a supermarket would be mostly safe from gambling ads, although obviously a lot do sell scratch cards and lottery tickets I know.
Don’t worry I’m not trying to say don’t gamble ever even if you are someone who just does a lucky dip on the lottery each week etc, that’s definitely your choice. I even accept that the companies are going to want to advertise, I mean alcohol is advertised despite the fact that there are alcoholics in the World, that’s not the issue.
The issue is the level of personal targeting after you have used their sites even once. Surely gambling companies have a responsibility to work a bit harder on the ‘responsible’ part of responsible gambling. Personally I think it is pretty disgusting how they bombard and hound people with unwanted mailings, text messages and emails.
If you believe you have a gambling addiction or know someone who has, then this article in (Please be aware it also contains details about a young man who sadly killed himself due to his addiction and debts) The Telegraph has a lot of helpful tips on how to try to beat it.