Gambling can be a great form of entertainment, but it’s important to be aware of the perils of problem gambling too. It’s important to remain in control of the time and money you spend on gambling. A great way to do this is by setting limits. These allow you to make sure you don’t spend too long gambling, or spend more than you can afford to. Of course, you can set personal limits, but licensed gambling sites have measures in place to help enforce these limits. Let’s take a closer look.

Safer Gambling

It is important to understand that, first and foremost, gambling should only ever be treated as a form of entertainment, rather than a potential source of income. GamCare have put together a few other pointers to help you stay safe when gambling – online or offline.

  1. Only gamble what you can afford to lose. A good way to work how much this is to make sure that your entertainment budget doesn’t eat into your phone bill or rent budget.
  2. Set your limits for time and money
  3. Gambling is not the answer to any problem
  4. Gambling when angry or upset is never a good idea
  5. Gambling shouldn’t interfere with your personal relationships


There are also a lot of practical ways you can stay on top of your gambling, from self-imposed limits to those run by the sportsbooks and casinos. Let’s have a look at some of the measures commonly in place at online gambling sites.

Deposit Limits

At the gambling site

Without limits in place, t’s easy to get carried away when you’re playing online, adding more and more funds to your pot as you spend more time at a site. What’s more, with so many convenient payment methods available nowadays, it’s easier than ever to spend pretty freely at an online bookie or casino. That’s why it’s a good idea to set yourself a deposit limit before you start playing.

This can be self-imposed, where you decide how much you want to spend before you start playing. You can make this process easier by keeping a spreadsheet of your gambling expenditure. It can be quite hard to track your spending when you have multiple accounts and you can often underestimate your spending until you actually see the numbers, so managing it in this way can be really helpful.

Another way of setting some effective deposit limits is by establishing some directly with the gambling site you’re playing with, meaning that once you’ve gone over your limit you physically can’t bet anymore. The sportsbook or casino will usually set these limits up almost instantly, whereas increases to this limit are usually implemented after 24 hours to give you time to change your mind. All in all, it’s simpler than ever before to stay in control of your gambling.

At the bank

You can also set up self-exclusion limits via your bank account. These will differ from bank to bank, with some giving you the ability to track how much you spend on certain types of transactions, while others will allow you to place wholesale blocks on all gambling transactions. The banks who currently allow customers to place gambling blocks on their transactions are:

Time Limits

Reality Checks

When you’re in the middle of a game, it can be very easy to block out the rest of the world and lose track of the time you’ve spent at one particular site. This is why reality checks are such a useful tool. After a set amount of time, they will let you know how long you’ve spent at a particular site, meaning you can get lost in the action without having to worry about how much time has elapsed.

  1. The first place to go to if you’re looking to set a reality check is the settings page, account page or responsible gambling page of your chosen gambling site where you should find a ‘Reality Checks’ section.
  2. Select the ‘edit’ and choose how frequently you would like your reality checks to occur. Your options will often vary from a fairly relaxed nudge every three hours, to a frequent reminder every 20 minutes.
  3. Once you’ve set your reality check, you will then have to enter your password in order to save the changes made.
  4. Once you come across a reality check, you will then be given the choice to either stop playing or dismiss it.

Regularly Take Breaks

While it’s often easy and pretty tempting to get lost in the action of a particular site, taking a break following a reality check, even for a couple of minutes, can really help you stay in control. Stepping outside to go for a walk or even just grabbing a cup of tea can give you some time to cool down and gain some perspective on a situation.

Time Outs

If you’re spending more time gambling than you’d like, then you can set up time outs on the site which will stop you from placing any bets with them. These exclusions can meet a number of player-specific scenarios, ranging from just a few hours for a small cooling-off period, to a matter of months for those who want to take a prolonged hiatus. It’s also worth bearing in mind that while you will be excluded from that particular site, it probably won’t apply to any sister or partner sites.

Anti-Gambling Software

There is also a range of anti-gambling software for your desktop and mobile devices that allow you to block gambling sites and apps. Services like Freedom and Gamban allow you to select the gambling websites and apps you want to block and for how long you want to block them for. Installing software like Gamban is quick, easy and can be done across all your devices. Freedom is free to use, while Gamban has ‘Cool Off’ (monthly) and ‘Exclusion’ (annual) pricing plans, in addition to a free seven-day trial.


Self-exclusions are for those who’s gambling problem is more serious than most and they are much longer than time outs. By requesting a self-exclusion from a particular bookie or casino, you will be unable to play with either them or any other site run by a parent company for a period that can range from 6 months to five years.

You can also get in touch with GAMSTOP and request a separate self-exclusion from the service. This will lock you out from all gambling sites registered in the UK, not just those owned by a specific company. In order to get the best out of this process, it’s also worth deleting any gambling apps from your phone.

Other Useful Advice

Don’t Drink or Take Drugs When Gambling

You’re going to want to make sure that your judgement is as good as it can be when you gamble, which is why you should use drink or drugs while you do it. Impairing it can have an enormous impact on how you play and the decisions you make.

Always Keep a Clear Head When Gambling

You should never gamble if you feel upset or angry. Your better judgement should always be front and centre when you’re gambling online and so any emotional state that can impair that should be treated with caution. This is especially true if you struggle with mental health problems like anxiety or depression.


Sites without the right licence are not held to the same standards. This can affect your gameplay, winnings, payouts, and overall experience. Avoiding these sites is key.

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