Responsible Gambling

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Gambling can be fun and entertaining both in Kentucky and elsewhere. But if you aren’t practicing responsible gambling, the risks associated with the activity can be considerable.

Gambling is not meant to be unpleasant. Even if you come out of the racetrack or casino a few dollars lighter, you’re supposed to chalk it up to the cost of entertainment. Unfortunately, for thousands of Kentuckians, gambling is a terrible problem that wreaks havoc on bettors’ lives and those of their families and friends.

If you are worried that you or someone you know has a gambling problem, you’ve come to the right place. This page is designed to be a resource for all the ways to get help in Kentucky. Read on for information about responsible gambling and related resources in Kentucky.

What is responsible gambling?

“Responsible gambling” refers to a set of behaviors that, when practiced faithfully, allow gamblers to engage in the activity safely and without financial or personal harm.

Responsible gambling is also a two-sided coin. It is incumbent on the gambler to play responsibly, but it is also important that gaming operators recognize when patrons might be in trouble. When it comes to legal forms of gambling in Kentucky, all providers are required to follow best practices to encourage responsible gambling.

Both gamblers and providers can achieve these goals by following certain guidelines and instructions. In the end, keeping as many Kentucky gamblers in the “responsible” category as possible is important for everyone in Kentucky.

How to gamble responsibly in KY

If you’re planning to gamble at the state’s racetracks, simulcast facilities, historical horse racing venues or to bet on sports in Kentucky, you need to know how to gamble responsibly. If you don’t, you run the risk of taking things too far.

The list of tips below should help you to accomplish that task. Following these pointers should greatly increase your chance of avoiding problems when gambling.

  • Don’t gamble when you are stressed. This includes avoiding gambling when feeling anxiety (about anything, including gambling itself) or depression. Unless you’re of clear mind and heart, the track and the casino are not good places to be.
  • Only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Your gambling budget should not include money needed for other purposes. Obviously, you should never gamble with your rent or mortgage money, food money or transportation money. However, we’d go a step further to say that you shouldn’t even gamble with money designated for other recreational or luxury activities. Your money is always better spent elsewhere.
  • Limit the money you take to gamble. If you don’t bring it, you can’t lose it.
  • Limit the time you spend gambling. If you are missing work, social or family events to gamble, that should be a red flag that things may be spiraling out of control.
  • Only gamble for predetermined durations. You should never gamble longer than planned, whether it be to let your winnings ride or to attempt to chase your losses and get back to even.
  • Keep track of your wins and losses. Especially if you are someone who gambles more than just occasionally, take a step back regularly and tabulate the effect your gambling is having on your finances. Make sure that the losses aren’t worse than you remember.
  • Be honest with your friends and family about how you did. If you are having to conceal the outcomes of your gambling trips, there may be a problem with what you’re doing.
  • Finally, don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask friends and family for help if you think you’ve lost control. Hiding the problem will only make it worse, and it is worth it for every dollar and every minute you save.

What gambling providers should do

Gambling providers also have a responsibility to watch out for gamblers who may have lost control. In fact, educating staff to recognize problem gambling and how to intervene is as important for them to know as it is for bartenders to cut drunk patrons off from receiving more drinks.

Kentucky gaming providers would be well served to adopt the following practices:

  • As mentioned, educate staff about the warning signs problem gamblers exhibit.
  • Make sure odds are accurately posted so that gamblers understand the risks involved.
  • Provide options for gamblers to take a break while on site. Sometimes even a 15-minute break might be enough to pull someone out of a crisis.
  • Don’t allow patrons to gamble if they appear under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Make sure to restrict any underaged patrons from gambling.
  • Never advertise services in a way that glamorizes bad behaviors or implies that winning is certain.

What is problem gambling?

You may not be totally clear on what “problem gambling” is. After all, a problem for one person might not be a problem for another.

To define the term, we should note that anyone can be affected by problem gambling, no matter their economic status. One way gambling becomes a problem is when the bettor is spending more money or time than planned. But we can broaden the definition. If gambling is having negative social, financial or physical impacts on a person, that’s a problem. It’s also a problem if those effects are felt by people close to the bettor.

Of course, we must remember that problem gambling and gambling addiction don’t often leave any physical marks on their sufferers. Other addictions, like drugs or alcohol, usually manifest with physical symptoms. Problem gambling and gambling addiction, on the other hand, often have signs that are far more subtle.

There are signs, however. If you or someone in your life are exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it may be time to inspect and reevaluate the situation.

  • Always talking about gambling. No matter the situation, the problem gambler is likely to return the conversation to gambling. They may relate everything from a recent trip to what happened at the track. They may watch shows about gambling almost exclusively. The topic will always seem to come up.
  • Having guilty feelings about gambling. If the gambler is practicing proper discipline when gambling, that person will have no apologies for the activity. If someone feels bad about something, it’s usually because they know it was the wrong thing to do.
  • Exhibiting personality changes. If you or someone you love suddenly begins acting out of character, it might indicate something troubling is afoot. A formerly patient person who begins exploding in anger may have other things on their mind that are bothering them.
  • Having unexplained financial troubles. The one tangible effect that problem gambling can have is on the wallet or pocketbook. If a person who seemingly shouldn’t have money problems is always broke or asking for a loan, the money is going somewhere, and it might be a slot machine.
  • Lying about how much money is being spent. If you’re having to hide receipts or ask for forgiveness instead of permission to gamble, then the gambling has gone too far.

How to get help for problem gambling in KY

If you or someone you love has a gambling problem in Kentucky, you need to get help. The sooner the problem is addressed, the better off the sufferer will be in the end.

The first step to getting help is recognizing the problem. But once that’s done, you need to make sure to act.

Here are some resources for getting help with a gambling problem in Kentucky:

  • Therapists and counselors who specialize in gambling addiction.
  • Call 1-800-GAMBLER. This 24/7 helpline is managed by and will connect you to the help you need.
  • Support groups and meetings like Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Kentucky.
  • Online forums and support groups like GamTalk.
  • The Kentucky Lottery’s self-exclusion program. As mentioned, the KY Lottery’s self-exclusion list has now launched. Gamblers who feel they cannot gamble responsibly can voluntarily exclude themselves from playing for a minimum of one year.

We must reiterate the importance of reaching out to help as soon as you recognize the problem. Every moment you delay makes the potential outcomes worse. For that reason, please reach out and contact one of the resources above.