Best Bingo Websites is here to bring you honest, comprehensive reviews and comparisons of bingo sites and their bonuses. But we’re equally passionate about promoting responsible gambling, and ensuring all our players can take part in a way that is fun, positive and safe, shielded from the negative impacts of gambling addiction.
While we know ourselves just how fun online bingo can be, there’s a time and a place - if things are getting out of hand, it’s important to know there are steps you can take to control your gambling, and organisations that can help you maintain a responsible outlook, while offering support to those most in need.
Awareness of the need for responsible gambling and what that involves is the first step to making sure your bingo play is always a fun part of your life.
How to play bingo responsibly
Too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and online bingo is no exception. In some rare instances, bingo can move beyond a fun, community-driven form of entertainment into something darker. In the most extreme cases, the consequences of compulsive gambling can be life-ruining.
It’s important to take steps to protect yourself from the harms that can arise when things get out of hand - both through personal responsibility, and through the variety of tools and responsible gambling mechanisms put in place by reputable bingo sites.
Set Personal Spending Limits
It begins with you. Set your own personal spending limits, either weekly or monthly depending on your income cycle, so you know how much you’re prepared to spend on your bingo. As any bingo player knows, wins aren’t a guarantee, so treat your gambling costs as dead money - anything you win is a bonus.
Decide on an amount you can afford to spend over the period, and stick to it. Some players find it useful to ring fence their bingo money in a separate account, even, to prevent overextending. By setting a firm limit you stick to, you’ll make sure you’re playing within boundaries you can afford.
Set Deposit Limits
Bingo sites will often allow you to set limits on your deposit amounts, so you can minimise your overall exposure at any one time. Generally, this breaks down into an amount you allow yourself to deposit either daily, weekly or monthly, with a hard line drawn at the maximum amount.
This prevents you from depositing more than you wanted within that period, so it’s wise to set these limits at the outset before you begin gambling, to avoid problems down the line.
Many bingo sites will offer a reality check feature, often as an automatic part of playing on their site. This kicks in after a set period of time to remind you how long you’ve been playing, or how much you have lost or won during your session. A notification presents on the screen which you need to close in order to continue playing.
Reality checks are a low-impact way of keeping on top of your gambling, but can be highly effective interventions if you’re getting caught up in the moment. It’s worth ensuring these are enabled if your bingo site doesn’t run them automatically, so you don’t lose track of your session.
Take a Breather
Keeping a handle on your gambling can sometimes be as simple as taking a step back. When you’ve been playing for a while, or you’re feeling yourself getting overly involved, walking away for some time can be a surprisingly effective way to regain perspective.
Of course, for some players, the urge to gamble is not one that can be dismissed as easily. If this is you, there are some specific tools available that can help you more forcefully restrict your gambling time.
Tools for restricting your gambling
If you feel things are getting too much, you can choose to lock your account for a cooling-off period, often between 24 hours and 7 days. This can give you the breathing space you need to regain your composure, and to bring yourself back to baseline if you’re beginning to feel negative effects from your bingo play.
One tier up is the temporary suspension, which has the same impact as a cooling-off period, but runs for a longer period of time. This is a 1-3 month suspension from your account, during which time you will be unable to deposit or play bingo. This can be good for allowing you to reassess how much you’re spending playing bingo online, and can help you better manage your finances, as well as your gambling patterns.
The ultimate tool available to you to limit your bingo play is self-exclusion. This is an industry-wide scheme where players can choose to exclude themselves from participating in online gambling. By registering at GAMSTOP, you can block all UK regulated bingo sites from accepting your deposits, in the event of a relapse or impulsive decision to gamble in the future. You can choose a timeframe from between 6 months and 5 years for exclusion.
Signs you may be developing gambling problems
Gambling addiction is recognised as an impulse-control disorder, where people fall into behavioural patterns that make it difficult to stop gambling, despite often knowing of the harms this may be causing to their lives.
There are several common indicators that you may be developing gambling problems, and it’s important to identify these as early as possible to avoid things getting out of control.
Spending Too Much
Spending more than you can afford on gambling is one of the first signs of developing problems for many players. Watch out for the compulsion to gamble beyond your means, or beyond the amount you had intended to spend on your bingo play, and always be sure to set and stick to budgets for your online bingo spending.
Hiding or Lying About Gambling
If you feel compelled to hide your gambling behaviour from others, or to lie to loved ones about the extent of your gambling, this may be a sign that things are spiralling beyond your control. If you reach a stage where you feel uncomfortable disclosing the amount of time you’re spending playing online bingo, or the money you are spending in the process, it may be time to take a break and review your approach.
Borrowing Money for Bingo
You should never be in a position where you are borrowing money to play online bingo, or to gamble in any way. This can be the start of more serious financial problems. As a result, you should only play within a budget set from your disposable income, to ensure you don’t end up running over an amount you’re comfortable with spending.
This is an easy trap for anyone to fall into, especially if you’ve lost more than you’d planned to spend. Chasing after losses can see you spiralling further into difficulties, and will likely increase the pressure and stress you feel from your bingo play.
Feelings of Stress, Anxiety or Pressure
Bingo should always be fun. If you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious about your bingo play, it’s definitely time to take a break. Similarly, finding yourself under financial or personal pressure as a result of playing bingo can indicate compulsive behaviour which could lead to long-term personal problems, and we’d always recommend anyone in this position seek help to take stock of their gambling behaviour.
Identifying gambling problems in someone you know
If you suspect a family member or close friend may be struggling with problem gambling, it may be worth highlighting your concerns and offering support. People who are developing gambling problems, or are already in the throes of gambling addiction often exhibit changes in their personality. Spotting these early in people you know and having that often-difficult conversation can be the start of a process of recovery - before things get too out of hand.
Look out for noticeable changes in personality, for example becoming more evasive, secretive, anxious or irritable. You might also see hints of financial problems, such as asking to borrow money, selling possessions or taking on additional work responsibilities, which could indicate an urgent need for funds to feed a developing gambling habit.
Another common sign is more volatile mood swings, which could be a loved one responding to the pressures of the ups and downs of gambling beyond their control.
While it’s not always easy to confront someone you care about when you think they may be having problems controlling their gambling, it is often better to do so in the spirit of offering a helping hand than watch gambling addiction take hold.
Help Is Out There
If you feel like you may be at risk from developing gambling problems, or you already exhibit the signs of problematic gambling behaviour, there are organisations on hand to provide help, support and advice.
Founded back in 1957, Gamblers Anonymous has been helping compulsive gamblers worldwide for nearly 70 years. There are regular meetings across the UK and the wider world, bringing together people with gambling problems to offer practical help and support in a non-judgemental environment.
Email: [email protected]
Call: 0330 094 0322
BeGambleAware is an independent charity set up to offer help, support and treatment to those experiencing gambling problems and addiction. BeGambleAware can also provide information to those concerned about someone else’s gambling, as well as referrals for treatment services and other support services.
Freephone 24/7: 0808 8020 133
Free national gambling helpline and support for anyone experiencing gambling addiction or gambling problems. Also offers a 24/7 live chat feature and forum, as well as round the clock phone support.
Live chat: www.gamcare.org.uk/get-support/talk-to-us-now/
Call: 0808 8020 133
Gambling self-exclusion tools
A free self-exclusion tool you can use to limit your own access to UK licenced gambling sites and apps. Choose the relevant time period for blanket exclusion across UK regulated bingo and other gambling sites.
Email: [email protected]
Call: 0800 138 6518
A paid-for tool for excluding access to all gambling sites and apps on a device. Regularly updated to cover new brands, preventing you from signing up and depositing with bingo and other gambling sites.
Debt help & support
Citizens Advice offers confidential free advice and support for managing debt, as well as offering practical advice on budgeting and a range of other issues associated with gambling problems and addiction.
Call: 03444 111 444 (England)
03444 77 20 20 (Wales)
UK-wide debt charity, offering specialist help and support for those managing debt and related financial worries. Offers free debt helpline for immediate advice and support for those in need.
Call: 0800 138 1111