What is Responsible Gambling?
Although its basic meaning can probably be deduced from the words themselves, responsible gambling in the context of the greater casino industry refers to a wide range of mechanisms and initiatives that are designed to protect players and maintain the integrity of the Canadian casino industry, both offline and online, in addition to a variety of other initiatives.
These initiatives are expected to be adhered to by the online gambling operators that provide these services to the general public. In addition, casino service providers (that is, the developers who create the online casino games you play, as well as the distribution platforms that allow them to be hosted on online casinos) must adhere to responsible gambling standards in order to contribute to the advancement of the industry's ideals of responsible gambling.
The Pillars of Responsible Gambling
Now, normally we would go off on a bit of a tangent to explain the history and reason behind this industry-wide push toward responsible gambling. However, this article will instead skip all of that as most, if not all of the driving forces that led to the development of responsible gambling are the same problems that responsible gambling standards and practices are attempting to solve in the first place.
With that in mind, the following sections detail the various facets of responsible gambling and the measures that are being implemented to solve or otherwise mitigate the incidence of the negative outcomes of gambling.
The proliferation of gambling addiction is the first and most significant impetus behind the implementation of responsible gaming standards.
Early in this article, we discussed how gambling, like all games, should always be viewed as a form of entertainment rather than a source of income. Considering all of this, it is no surprise that every casino website on the Internet constantly reminds their players to "only spend what they can afford to lose."
Despite the fact that they provide players with the opportunity to win money, all the best casinos in Canada and the casino games, are ultimately for-profit forms of entertainment, similar to a concert or a movie - you pay to be entertained by the content that the casinos and casino games offer. That being said, even if the vast majority of the general public can approach gambling as a recreational activity, there are some people who are particularly susceptible to psychological traps that are born from a distorted view of what gambling should be; and it is at this point that gambling addiction takes hold.
The ideal solution would be to prevent addicts from ever logging into the website again, but no casino operator would ever want to turn away a potential paying customer, regardless of whether or not they are at risk of becoming addicted to gambling in the first place. As a result, many of the measures in place to combat gambling addiction are geared toward limiting rather than completely prohibiting people from engaging in gambling.
Measures to Prevent Gambling Addiction
This measure prevents a problem gambler from accessing his or her online casino account for a certain length of time. The self-exclusion procedure may be carried out on the gambler’s behalf by a friend or relative in some situations, particularly when the gambler is having difficulties controlling their gambling tendencies.
This measure restricts the amount of money that a player may deposit into their casino account at any given time. This restriction may aid in the prevention of problem gambling by stopping gamblers from losing control of their spending habits.
This measure establishes a maximum time restriction for the amount of time a gambler may spend at an online casino. Limiting the length of their gaming sessions might help them avoid protracted losing streaks, which many compulsive gamblers experience and from which they feel compelled to try to recover.
This measure calls on the gambler’s chosen payment method (for example, a bank account or an online wallet) and prevents the use of that casino payment method for gambling-related transactions.
This measure causes a pop-up message to appear at predetermined intervals to urge the gambler to either take a break or to stop playing for a period of time.
Another important aspect of responsible gambling standards is protecting minors from the dangers of gambling, thereby helping them avoid becoming problem gamblers in general. This initiative isn’t so much an idealistic goal for the gambling industry as it is a moral and legal obligation, as just about every government in the world has made real money gambling illegal for anyone under the age of 19 (or 18 in some jurisdictions).
As such, online operators must take all necessary precautions to ensure that no underage gaming activities take place on their websites and that the laws protecting minors in their targeted jurisdiction are adhered to by their customers. For all players, operators must offer a clear registration procedure that includes necessary verification processes that must be fulfilled to guarantee that players are of legal gambling age.
Meanwhile, parents are encouraged to watch their children's activities and to take all necessary steps to prevent them from gaining access to the internet by installing parental control applications and/or programs on their mobile phones and other electronic devices.
Measures to Prevent Underage Gambling
- Identity Checks: One of the simplest and most effective measures to block underage gambling is to implement identity Checks throughout the registration process of every new player account. Of course, given the nature of online accounts and how easy it is to lie, gambling operators still require a laundry list of personal information to ensure that the data provided for the casino account is valid and accurate.
- Awareness campaigns: The second measure used to combat underage gambling is by having gambling operators lead the charge in launching awareness and information campaigns to minors on the dangers of online gambling.
Nowadays, most people are probably already aware of how most online systems work on a fundamental level. It is therefore especially important that the casino industry continues to improve and innovate in terms of securing their online gambling platforms, both in the interests of protecting paying users as well as preventing intrusions from bad actors.
Marketing is an integral part of introducing potential paying customers to new products and services - this is true for just about everything under the sun, gambling included. However, given the potential issues with problem gambling and underage gambling that we touched on earlier, marketing online casinos and casino games becomes an especially tightrope to walk on. Casino operators and game developers will therefore need to exercise caution to avoid targeting particularly vulnerable sectors of the market.
One of the ways that this is being done in the online casino review industry right now is marketing based on the general principle of informed consent. Informed consent refers to the idea that any customer who chooses to buy into a product or service has done so after being provided with all of the relevant information on the potential risks of said product or service. This is especially important in the context of online gambling, as most problem gamblers tend to fall into their holes after being lured in by marketing that does not paint the full picture regarding the nature of gambling and its many potential pitfalls.
It is therefore imperative for the gambling insudtry in Canada to adhere to this idea of informed consent and ensure that players are properly oriented on the dangers of gambling before they choose to participate in it.
Who is Responsible for Responsible Gambling?
While the term “responsible gambling” seems to imply that it only applies to the actual gamblers themselves, the wider initiative has become a corporate social responsibility that is (or otherwise should be) applied at every step of the casino service chain. As a result, there are more parties that have a vested interest in furthering responsible gambling standards and practices than you might initially expect.
Like many forms of entertainment and business, government regulators are at the top of the responsible gambling pile, developing and enforcing the laws that lay the foundations of what is and isn’t allowed in the gambling market within their jurisdictions.
Unlike most other countries, gambling in Canada is not regulated by a single entity on the national level, but rather by many separate entities at the provincial level. Kahnawake province is leading the charge on this in Canada and they have the authority to enforce either looser or tighter restrictions on Kahnawake online casinos at their discretion. In addition, government regulators may also draw upon their authority to issue a casino license to casino operators and software suppliers who wish to establish a new casino in their jurisdictions.
Regardless, these government regulators continue to adhere to the minimum legal standards on gambling as was laid down in the Criminal Code of Canada. A few of the most notable gambling regulators in Canada include:
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC)
- Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLCC)
- Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
- British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch
- Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux du Québec (RACJ)
Besides their legislative functions, government gambling regulators also function as official outlets that provide resources for responsible gambling such as self-exclusion programs and other means of rectifying problem gambling as discussed in the relevant section earlier in the article.
Online Casino Suppliers
All of the laws and policies established by these government regulators are expected to be followed by the next step down in the casino service chain - the suppliers. We use the term “online casino suppliers” here to refer to both online casino operators and the developers that provide the games and backend software that power the operators.
As the primary point of interaction for all online gamblers, suppliers serve as the first line of defense against problem gambling, and they must be able to quickly provide resources and support channels for vulnerable gamblers to prevent any further damage. Indeed, most if not all of the support measures and requirements that we mentioned in the previous section are examples of what casino suppliers must be able to do.
Generally considered to be outside the online gambling service chain, independent regulators are third-party organizations that develop more stringent standards for responsible gambling and assist gambling regulators to meet these standards in the interests of player protection and fair play. With examples such as the Responsible Gambling Council and eCOGRA, these independent regulators also perform their own independent audits and award certifications to compliant casino suppliers, with the certifications serving as an indicator of quality for players looking for a good online casino site.
At the core of everything is you, the gamblers. As both the primary source of a majority of the revenue in the casino industry and the starting point for the problem gambling that is the primary reason for responsible gambling initiatives in the first place, gamblers are placed in the unique position of being a sector that has to be both protected from the risks of gambling but not driving them all away outright.
Although all of the other sectors of the industry do everything within their capabilities to guide players and promote safe, fun, and responsible gambling, the players themselves also share a similar responsibility to keep their habits under control and not fall into the psychological traps that are ever rampant in the world of gambling.
At the end of the day, responsible gambling is just a simple matter of ensuring that every player’s gambling experience is not only safe but enjoyable. As we said at the beginning of this article, “it’s just a game” - and while there have been a significant number of instances of problem gambling, the industry as a whole has come together to deploy measures and resources to protect players from slipping into the dark side of the casino.