Gambling is a time-honored tradition, enjoyed by millions across the globe as an enjoyable pastime and an exciting use of disposable income. With the acceptance of gambling on the rise, more states are allowing land casinos, online gambling, and sports betting each year. It wasn’t long ago that the only legal options for gambling in the US were Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Today’s gambler has a far greater range of options, including being able to enjoy the full casino experience from their mobile device from the comfort of home. While that would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago, it is commonplace today. Sports betting and online casino gambling have quickly become multi-billion dollar industries, with millions of players placing wagers each year.
But just like any vice, the thrill of gambling for some can spiral out of control if not enjoyed in moderation. The vast majority of gamblers do so responsibly, with money they can afford to lose, but for some it becomes a habit that can lead to devastating life consequences. Some estimates say as many as 1-4% of U.S. adults are problem gamblers, or 2 to 8 million people.
That said, this page will talk more about responsible gambling, problem gambling, and where Colorado gamblers can ask for help if they need it.
Understanding Responsible Gambling
Gambling responsibly entails having a clear understanding of a fundamental truth: Gambling is an inherently risky activity. Even the most shrewd players are at the mercy of the house edge, which can run into the 20% range for some casino games. For professional sports gamblers, it can be difficult to sustain a win percentage above 55%. Those ornate Roman columns and gilded crystal chandeliers at your favorite casino were all paid for with money lost by gamblers.
One key tenet to responsible gambling is sticking to a predetermined budget and only playing with money you can afford to lose. Determine ahead of time how much you can afford to lose and bring or deposit exactly that amount.
Gambling should be viewed as a form of entertainment, not a money-making venture. Any wins should be considered a lucky bonus, and never be expected. Any money brought to a casino should be budgeted as spent before you walk out the front door.
Some other tips for responsible gambling, specifically at casinos, include:
- Set spending limits before entering a casino and follow them to the penny. Stay away from casino ATMs or leave your cards at home.
- Decide in advance how long you’ll gamble and stick to the plan.
- Know that there’s nothing wrong with walking away with a small win. You don’t have to attempt to parlay a modest win into a life-changing sum of money.
- Be cognizant of your emotional state and do not gamble if you’re angry or sad.
- Keep track of your spending over time. Seeing the hard number can be eye-opening
- Take regular breaks from gambling. Ensure your social life consists of activities other than gambling.
- If you think you might have a gambling problem, don’t be afraid to speak up.
Gambling platforms and casino operators work to support players’ responsible gaming efforts, offering guidelines that help ensure a fun, safe, and ethical environment including:
- Providing readily accessible information for players about the risks of gambling and how to enjoy it responsibly.
- Ensuring staff is well trained to recognize symptoms of problem gambling and intervene if necessary.
- Providing resources for problem gamblers looking for help.
- Training staff to look for excessive alcohol consumption by players.
- Avoiding marketing efforts that target high-risk or problem gamblers.
- Helping to prevent underage players from gambling.
Additional resources and information can usually be found at a casino’s cashier window or on their websites.
Understanding Problem Gambling
Another key to responsible gambling is to know when you might have a problem. Gambling addiction can creep in slowly, but if left unchecked it can wreak havoc on somebody’s relationships, their finances, or even their employment. The Colorado Gaming Association defines problem gambling as “any gambling behavior negatively impacting the lives of individuals, resulting in serious personal, financial, or legal consequences”.
Since there are no obvious immediate physical symptoms of problem gambling, it can be difficult to spot. There are, however, behavioral symptoms to look out for, including:
- Borrowing money from friends or family to gamble.
- Hiding gambling losses from others.
- Lying about how much you gamble.
- Becoming irritable or angry when you can’t gamble.
- Neglecting school, work, or other social activities that don’t involve gambling.
- Using gambling to escape stress or negative feelings.
- Feeling depressed or remorseful after gambling.
- Disregarding personal health or hygiene.
- Requiring bigger bets to achieve the same excitement.
- Gambling with the goal of winning back losses.
It is imperative to be honest with yourself if you think you may have a gambling addiction. In studying gambling disorders, co-occurring disorders have also been found, including:
- Substance abuse
Resources In Colorado For Responsible And Problem Gambling
Fortunately, the State of Colorado offers plenty of resources for players who want to learn more about how to responsibly enjoy gambling, or where to turn if addiction is a concern.
Everyone is different, so the tips we offered above may not apply to every player’s unique situation. If you think you might have a gambling problem, there is no shame in proactively seeking help. Assistance can range from basic support to voluntary self-exclusion programs.
The State of Colorado offers many options for gamblers looking for help.
Local affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling. Offers a confidential help line, self-exclusion, professional counseling and support groups for gamblers and their families.
A collection of Colorado-based groups, programs, and coalitions where people with gambling problems can find the help they need.
- Colorado-Based Counselors – National Council on Problem Gambling
A list of Colorado counselors specializing in the treatment of problem gambling.
Colorado’s chapter of Gamblers Anonymous, offering free helplines and meetings.
The NCPG operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700), which is open 24-hours a day to provide free, confidential referrals to people in all 50 states, Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They also offer text and chat services.
An organization seeking to study and research gambling disorder to find the root causes and help reduce the harm people can cause to their lives if it gets out of control. Around since 1996, ICRG broadened its mission and changed its name from National Center for Responsible Gaming on Jan. 1, 2020.
A fellowship of men and women dealing with gambling addiction who support each other in their efforts to quit gambling and not go back to the same behaviors.
The Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado and the Colorado Gaming Association provide a voluntary self-exclusion program. Signing up will remove your name from any casino marketing mailing lists, cancel all slot club memberships, and revoke the ability to cash checks at Colorado casinos.
Those interested in self-exclusion can fill out and print this form and mail it to:
Problem Gambling Coaltion of Colorado, Inc.
PO BOX 260435
Lakewood, CO 80226-0435
Any casino employee should also be able to point you in the right direction if you want to self-exclude from specific casinos.
Responsible Sports Betting:
All reputable online sportsbooks take responsible gambling seriously, and nearly all have options available for users to self-impose limits on how much they can deposit over a certain period of time, how much they can spend, and how long they can play. They also offer self-exclusion options.
A Final Word On Responsible Gaming
At the end of the day, gambling is supposed to be fun. If you treat it as an occasional indulgence and only ever play with what you can afford to lose, your chances of developing a gambling habit will decrease dramatically.
Some people are more prone to addiction problems than others, so it’s important to know yourself and your tendencies before ever setting foot inside a casino or placing a wager with an online sportsbook. Admitting you might have a gambling problem can be very difficult, so know the signs to look out for. If you’re no longer gambling for fun, that’s a sign that you’re on a treacherous path.