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Responsible Gambling in the United States responsible gambling logo

Gambling is supposed to be fun. Unfortunately, it may have become something else for you or someone that you love. If so, then you’ve come to the right place. The pages within this guide can help you understand how problem gambling works, what you can do to gamble responsibly, and what treatment options are available if things are getting out of hand.

Problem gambling is not a matter of being weak-minded or weak-hearted. It can happen to anyone. The only wrong choice is to ignore it and hope it goes away. Help can be minutes away, so let’s start the process of getting you the information you need.

What does it mean to gamble responsibly?

To gamble responsibly means to bet using a controlled set of practices and behaviors. Responsible gambling can go a long way toward avoiding problem gambling.

By contrast, problem gambling is any level of gambling in which you are spending too much money gambling, too much time gambling, or both. Problem gambling is distinct from gambling addiction in that addicted gamblers are no longer capable of stopping.

However, it’s probably best to consider problem gambling and gambling addiction as two points on the same spectrum. Very few people become gambling addicts overnight, and they usually spend quite some time as problem gamblers.

Responsible gambling is enjoyable gambling. If you want to make sure that your betting is staying fun and safe, check out our tips on how to gamble responsibly.

Responsible gambling terms

Like all human activities, responsible gambling has its own terminology. To avoid confusion, we have provided a glossary for common responsible gambling terms.

Do I have a gambling problem?

This question may linger somewhere in the mind of every gambler, and it’s probably healthy to keep checking whether your habits are in control.

However, there are a few common signs of a gambling problem. None of them are diagnostic, mind you, but they may indicate that you should start paying closer attention.

We have an entire page about how to identify whether you have developed a problem with your gambling. Even if you think that you’re still OK, it doesn’t hurt to know when the alarm bells are beginning to ring.

Responsible gambling tools

If you need more than encouraging words to gamble responsibly, there are several tools to help you stay in order.  We’ve compiled a detailed list and explanations of useful responsible gambling tools to help.

However, one element to bear in mind is that these tools are not meant to be cures for problem gambling. They are merely aids to assist in your journey.


There is one option that most gamblers have available to them as a sort of last resort. Self-exclusion programs are master lists of gamblers who have voluntarily chosen to be banned from gambling outlets in a certain jurisdiction for a preset length of time.

Because these lists prescribe such severe measures—a complete ban, enforceable by law—they are usually kept by the appropriate branch or agency of each state government. In some cases, individual online casinos may also maintain self-exclusion lists and capabilities. Read more about self-exclusion and how it can help.

Support for friends and family

Gambling problems don’t just affect the sufferer. The friends and family of problem gamblers and gambling addicts need support, too. They need guidance on how to help their loved one, but they also need support for their own struggles with the situation.

In terms of guidance, the most important thing to do is remain as positive as you can about your loved one’s eventual position in recovery. Give them support and honesty about the problem, but avoid judgment, as the problem gambler is likely defensive and vulnerable about their problem already.

For you (the friend or family member), it’s important to get yourself some assistance and support from people who undoubtedly understand your situation. GAM-ANON is the sister program to Gamblers Anonymous and is specifically designed to unite loved ones of problem gamblers in support, advice, and friendship.

Official support services

Along with self-exclusion lists, many state governments and official entities offer support services to residents in their jurisdictions. These may be departments of health and human services, or they may be state-sponsored official organizations that work as an adjunct of the government itself. In some cases, the government may have funds set aside to pay for a portion or all of the treatment for a resident problem gambler.

Aside from those groups, there are nonprofit organizations dedicated to promoting responsible gambling habits and educating the public about problem gambling. The best-known of these organizations is the National Council on Problem Gambling, which acts as a central hub for many state-specific problem gambling nonprofits in the country.

Regardless of whether the two groups above exist in your state, peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous and GAM-ANON likely offer numerous weekly meetings throughout the area. Even if you don’t have the government’s support, you can still take affirmative steps on your journey to recovery. If you don’t know where to start, head to our Service and Support page.

A deeper look at problem gambling and gambling addiction

Problem gambling and gambling addiction are big issues for society. Billions are lost needlessly each year. Unsurprisingly, numerous groups and entities are conducting scholarly research on the topics.

Notable organizations with a scholarly focus on gambling in general, which includes responsible gambling, include the National Institutes of Health, the International Center for Responsible Gambling, and the Journal of Gambling Studies. If you prefer a more academic approach to the topic, these organizations are great places to start. Here are some individual studies and findings that we use ourselves:

Source list

No page is written in a vacuum. Here are some of the great thinkers and content producers we used to make this page.

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