There are some serious risks when it comes to gambling. You’re putting money on the table – and if it’s money you can’t afford to lose, you’re not gambling responsibly.
So what is responsible gambling? Responsible gamblers:
- Can control how much time and money they spend on gambling
- Don’t chase their losses
- Don’t bet more than they can afford to lose
- Understand, and accept, the odds of winning and losing
- Know when to take breaks
- Stop playing when they no longer enjoy gambling
You can be an avid gambler and a responsible gambler. The tips we’ll present here will help you do just that.
We love sports betting as much as anyone – more than most, really, given that we’ve set up a whole site dedicated to sports betting. Kyle is a professional sports handicapper – you’ve got to enjoy sports betting to get a career like that.
Why are we mentioning this right now? It’s simple – we want you to understand that you can love sports betting, and you can bet on sports on a regular basis, and still be a responsible gambler. It’s not about how often you bet in the abstract – it’s about knowing your limits.
Treat gambling as entertainment
We know that professional sports betting is possible – Kyle is living that dream right now. We also know that, realistically, 99.99999% (we made that number up, but the point stands) of sports bettors will never be professionals.
The chances are extremely high that if you’re reading this, you will never be a professional sports bettor. That’s a reality you have to accept if you want to gamble responsibly.
That means you should treat gambling as entertainment. Do you go to the movies expecting to get your money back? When you get dinner and a drink, are you calculating the EV of your beverage?
Of course not.
Treat gambling the same way. Any money that you put down – put it down assuming that the money is going to be gone forever, the same way it would be totally gone if you went out for a night on the town. You’ve paid for your entertainment, and now that money is gone.
The difference, of course, between gambling and other activities is that in the gambling world, calculating your EV is actually worth your time. You can get your money back. But you should assume you won’t. That will help you avoid chasing losses, and can keep you from spending money that you don’t have.
Have a set budget
We’re treating sports betting as entertainment, and that means you’re only going to spend what you can afford to lose. The best way to do this is by setting a gambling budget every month, and never deviating from that budget. If you lose it all on one bet – well, you’ll have to wait until next month to gamble again.
You might think this is amateurish, but the opposite is true. We’ve done an in-depth dive on bankroll management and the first thing we mention is that you are going to lose money. You might end up winning money overall, but there will be times where you make 20 bets in a row and they’ll all lose.
That’s why it’s important to set limits – for professionals and amateurs alike. You never want to bet more than you can afford to lose. A good budget and bankroll management system can do more for you than we could even begin to touch on in this article – so go read the other one if you’re interested, and then come back.
Online gambling has made ease of access a serious problem – it’s easy to just reach for a credit card and add more cash to your account. If that’s a serious risk to your budget, consider deleting your online gambling accounts, or setting limits on gambling websites.
Know your limits
You never want to be spending more than you can afford to lose. That’s why we’re treating gambling as entertainment – you’d never go out for a fancy dinner one night if it meant you couldn’t afford groceries for a week.
But as the old saying goes, time is money, and if you’re spending too much time gambling online (or in person), other important parts of your life can fall by the wayside. You want to keep in mind how much time you can afford to spend gambling, as well as how much money you can afford.
Now, sports betting is a pretty incredible hobby, and you’re already spending time on sports. Pouring over spreadsheets, accumulating data, reading articles and listening to podcasts – if that’s the kind of thing you love to do, you’re in good company.
But any hobby can end up overwhelming your life in unhealthy ways. Putting a time limit on not only how often you gamble, but how much energy you put into the prepwork for gambling, is a good idea. In an increasingly online world, pulling yourself away from screens and spreadsheets every once in a while is a good idea.
The rapid fire round: here are a whole bunch of tips to help you ensure you don’t go over your budget, spend too much time gambling, or get too down about gambling outcomes.
- Don’t gamble if you’re under the influence.
- Don’t gamble when you’re sad/depressed.
- Take regular breaks. Get some fresh air! Drink a coffee! Don’t spend all day online.
- Have other hobbies. Make sure sports betting is just one part of who you are.
- Understand that the vast majority of gamblers lose more than they win. Remember – you’re gambling for entertainment purposes.
- Young adults are at a higher risk of gambling addiction. If you’re under 25, consider another hobby – for now.
- When gambling online, gamble on sites that allow for self-exclusion/self-limitation, etc. They can help you control your gambling.
- Take the time to learn about how to manage your bankroll.
- Learn about how sports betting works – make sure you understand the odds and the game.
- Know the signs of gambling addiction. You may be addicted if you’re:
- Missing work or school
- Spending more than you can afford
- Getting into fights over gambling
- Borrowing to gamble
- Using gambling as an escape
- Losing sleep over gambling
- Gambling longer than intended
- Showing other signs of gambling addiction
Sports betting can be a safe, enjoyable, and even profitable hobby – but gambling addiction is always lurking around the corner. We created these above tips in the sincere hope that they’ll help you avoid gambling addiction. We want this hobby to be seen as just that – a hobby – and we want you to live your best life.
Struggling with gambling addiction? Help is available:
- National Problem Gambling Helpline (U.S.): 1-800-522-4700
- Help by state: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/help-by-state/
- Gambling helplines by province (Canada): https://canadasafetycouncil.org/gambling-addiction/