For the vast majority of people who gamble, whether it’s sports betting or slot machines, the games are a form of entertainment. That’s for the majority — but not for all.
Some individuals experience gambling addiction that, if left untreated, can result in devastating consequences to their health, finances, family life and so forth.
State-licensed, regulated gambling operators in Pennsylvania and other states are required to install certain speed bumps and off-ramps to help gamblers and their loved ones avoid the consequences of full-fledged, irresponsible gambling.
The remainder of this article outlines:
- Pennsylvania’s resources addressing responsible bambling;
- A review of self-exclusion, limits and “cooling off” options you can set up;
- National resources regarding responsible gambling and additional materials for consideration.
Pennsylvania responsible gambling resources
- Visit the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania homepage.
- Read the “rules” of responsible gambling
- Get information from the PGCB’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling
- Call the PA Gambling Addiction 24-hour hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER.
- Search online for a Gambling Addiction Participating Provider.
- Text or chat with CCGP’s 24-hour chatline.
- PA Self-Exclusion program
What is iGaming self-exclusion? It’s a process that allows a person to voluntarily request to be banned from all legalized iGaming activities and prohibits the person from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses or accepting complimentary gifts or services or any other thing of value on a licensed iGaming website.
Basically, self-exclusion allows you to eliminate the ability to act on temptation, by being proactive about a potential problem. The duration of exclusion one can choose is for 12 months, 5 years or lifetime. Keep in mind that exclusion from in-person gambling venues requires separate registration. A self-exclusion restricts you from accessing any online gambling site in Pennsylvania. You will no longer be able to perform any actions at online gambling websites, and the decision cannot be reversed.
Read the brochure here for an explanation of the self-exclusion process, what information you must provide, and the period of self-exclusion. From there you can get complete information on how to exclude yourself, for what duration, what it means, or just go directly to the web signup form to enroll in online self-exclusion. Someone can also join the iGaming self-exclusion list in person at a PGCB office (call 717-346-8300 for an appointment).
Keep in mind you cannot enroll a family member or anyone but yourself. Placement on the list can only be accomplished voluntarily.
Limits and “cooling off” or “timeout”
To help set up some limits and keep people in comfortable ranges, legal PA sportsbooks will allow you to set up:
- Deposit limits: Allows you to control how much you deposit on the site per day, week, or month.
- Spending limits: based off of your net losses. This allows you to control how much you spend on the site per day, week, or month.
- Time limits: allows you to restrict the number of hours you spend on the site each day.
- Wagering limits: allows you to control the amount you wager on the site per day, week, or month. Also allows you to limit the wager amount on a single bet per game type.
A “cooling off” period or “timeout” or “suspension” is similar to self-exclusion but it’s for a shorter period, to allow someone to step away, get their bearings and some perspective.
Here’s how the “timeout” is described at the PA FanDuel Sportsbook:
Should you need a cooling off period from gaming, you can choose our self suspend action. Please be aware that the self suspension has to be for a minimum of 72 hours and that during that time period you will not be able to login. Please contact customer service should you want your funds returned during that period. The account will be automatically reenabled after the period has gone by. Players may request an immediate and indefinite suspension by contacting customer support at 877-689-0662.”
Each legal online PA sportsbook will have a tab or page where you can access responsible gambling procedures.
Signs of Problem Gambling
If you or a loved one is showing any of the following signs of problem gambling, it’s time to reach out to some Responsible Gambling help like the resources on this page. Even if a specific behavior is not listed below, it’s important to note: any gambling that causes problems in your life is problem gambling.
- Needing to bet more money to feel the same excitement
- “Cheating” on your pre-set limits by dipping into personal funds
- Trying to “chase” losses by betting even when you’ve exceeded your pre-set spending limit
- Losing track of time gambling, not being able to stop or becoming upset when asked to stop
- Borrowing money to gamble
There are quite a few more signs of problem gambling, but if you’re noticing problems for you or your loved ones, it’s time to reach out for help.
National and other resources
- Visit the National Center for Responsible Gambling
- Gambler’s Anonymous websites
- Gambling Therapy: Online help for responsible gambling
- Call the NCPG: 1-800-522-4700 (24-hour confidential national helpline)
- Text the NCPG: 1-800-522-4700 (24-hour confidential national text service)
- Chat with the NCPG: ncpgambling.org/chat (24-hour confidential national chat service)
- Reddit’s responsible gambling forum
- An Addiction Doctor Explains Signs, Behavior and Treatment
- GamTalk (www.gamtalk.org) — a 24/7 moderated online peer support forum.
- Gam-Anon offers support for both family and close friends of problem gamblers.