Responsible gambling policies are a collection of preventive tools and measures designed to help patrons use gambling for entertainment’s sake and steer clear of the treacherous waters of excessive and compulsive gambling. The entire endeavor is meant to be a joint effort from the New Jersey legislators, the casino operators, and the community.

Considering that problem gambling affects the entire community, not just individuals and their lives, all community members share a responsibility to spread the word about the importance of education on the issue and available resources to those suffering from gambling addiction.

Here at PlayNewJersey, we are more than willing to do our share of heavy lifting. In fact, we feel duty-bound to promote a healthy approach to casino gambling, emphasizing the vital importance of helping our readers never to lose from sight that gambling should always be fun and never seen as a source of income.

We share this core belief with all New Jersey-regulated operators and work together to stop the development of problem gambling behavior in the first place.

However, spotting a potential gambling problem is not that easy. This guide is here to help you learn about the measures you can take to battle gambling addiction and all the resources available for that fight. We can’t just paper over the cracks. It’s time to act, and PlayNJ is proud to be in the vanguard.

Why is responsible gambling important?

Responsible gambling is a set of collective actions devised to minimize the harm of excessive gambling. Think of it as a safety guardrail that keeps you from falling into the abyss of problem gambling. The magnitude of that issue and its repercussions on a person are so vast that, at times, the abyss would feel more like a black hole devouring one’s entire life. With gambling addiction, your finances get hit first, then your personal relationships take a heavy toll, and finally, your health deteriorates.

With the awareness of responsible gambling at the back of your mind, you will be in a good position to keep casino gambling fun and avoid the risk of developing a gambling addiction.

Another important tenet of responsible gambling is protecting players’ finances. It promotes staying within your spending limits and treating wins as a bonus, not something that should be the players’ ultimate goal.

In addition to notifying you about the spending limit and advising you to set one, responsible gambling tools also send notifications about the time one spends gambling, thus addressing the potential issues since many patrons don’t even believe they have a gambling problem. With these tools in place, the perception of what behavior may constitute excessive gambling changes.

Tips for gambling online responsibly

Hearing the cha-ching sound of a slot when that jackpot comes knocking causes an adrenaline rush few other activities can. However, the inherent, built-in risk of gambling should never be overlooked. The odds are ultimately against you, no matter the game you play, so keeping a tab on your casino gambling is paramount. Here are some tips and strategies to use to play safe and have fun while doing so:

  • Understand the odds 
  • Take breaks between game sessions — Breathe some fresh air, and have coffee and lunch. Let your mind focus on other things besides gambling.
  • Gamble only with the money you can afford to lose 
  • Never borrow money to fund your gambling activities
  • Don’t try to chase down your losses — Chasing losses will most likely only accrue more of those.
  • If you feel like gambling is not a source of fun anymore, quit right away 
  • Use Responsible Gambling tools — All New Jersey online casinos offer multiple responsible gambling tools like deposit, time, and spending limits. Use them. They are there for a reason.
  • Don’t see gambling as a way to make money — The house has an in-built leverage that ensures they remain on top no matter what. This is not to say that you won’t win or won’t win regularly. Nonetheless, making a living out of it is not a viable option in the long run.
  • Don’t use your credit card to fund online gambling — Gambling with your credit card is a breeding ground for problem gambling. You will most likely be tempted to make further deposits even if you don’t have that money on you, so make sure to use a debit card or other methods that make it easier for you to control spending.
  • Leave well enough alone — You don’t always have to double down. If you are on a roll, quitting while you are ahead may be the most sensible thing to do.

Responsible gambling green flags to look for in an online casino

The law mandates that online casino operators in New Jersey uphold responsible gambling attitudes by clearly demonstrating how patrons can enjoy a fair, safe, and fun environment. In fact, the state’s chief regulatory agency, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, has championed several new tools to assist problem gamblers over the years, thus keeping the players’ best interests at heart.

  • Detailed patron protection page. The page must inform patrons about the operator’s policies and commitment to responsible gaming, practical information about gambling myths, tips on staying safe, and the signs of problem gambling. There should also be a direct link to the Council on Compulsive Gambling New Jersey and other relevant US-based organizations.
  • Comprehensive analysis of gambling activities. New Jersey online casino operators must maintain a database of every player’s bet over the past 10 years to identify potential problem gamblers. The system needs to warn players whose gambling increases on a weekly basis, who continuously use cool-off periods, those who wager until they have less than a dollar in their accounts, players who deposit thousands of dollars over a short period, and those who access the self-exclusion pages regularly but fail to execute the self-exclusion.
  • Problematic play interventions. The NJDGE mandates that operators must take action if they observe problematic play. The actions include sending automated messages with responsible gambling resources, making the patron watch tutorials explaining the tools at their disposal, and ultimately reaching out to the patron directly to communicate about the potential issue and its resolution. Also, online casinos will require a patron to re-enter the account after 15 minutes of user inactivity.
  • Upholding the KYC policy. By verifying each player’s account before allowing patrons to make a deposit, NJ online casinos ensure that underage gambling is prevented and that the players have the means to gamble. During the verification process, players will have to provide copies of their bank statements and financial data to substantiate their intention to gamble.
  • Avoid marketing campaigns that target high-risk gamblers. The advertising standards in New Jersey require “1-800-GAMBLER” to be ostensibly displayed on ads and make no mention of guaranteed wins.

In 2023, the DGE announced it was expanding the RG rules. Namely, all players who want to exclude themselves from gambling can now contact DGE via a new, toll-free phone number. Additionally, players can request a virtual meeting with the DGE responsible gambling agent to complete the self-exclusion and get the necessary help.

How to identify problem gambling

Problem gambling covers a plethora of behaviors that make it difficult to discern if the person is actually going through a tough time because of gambling or something else. Gambling issues can creep up on anyone, and in many cases, the symptoms can relate to other psychological disorders, like alcohol and drug abuse.

Therefore, it’s important to look for warning signs, not only in others but yourself as well. Being vigilant for the following subtle cues can be a stepping stone to recovery.

  • Preoccupation with gambling so that it begins to interfere with one’s daily activities
  • Beginning to alienate from family and friends
  • The constant need for action and excitement
  • Borrowing money without explanation
  • Getting overly defensive when gambling is brought up in conversation
  • Selling personal belongings and constant lying
  • Disproportionate risk-taking
  • Hiding gambling activities and losses
  • Becoming overly competitive
  • Feeling restless all the time and falling into withdrawal

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, over 2 million Americans meet the criteria for severe problem gambling. Recognizing those battling the issue among our friends and family is an important duty and great responsibility.

Warning signs of gambling disorder

The realization that you or your loved ones are on the verge of falling into pathological gambling is a heavy burden as it is, but not all individuals come to terms with it easily. Ask yourself if all you talk about is casino gambling. If you take every opportunity to place a bet, it might have become an obsession.

Financial woes are quite common for people suffering from gambling disorders. Many continue to engage in the activity despite the mounting debts and are always looking for that “big win” that will fix everything. Sadly, that win never comes.

Depression, lack of sleep, irritability, and getting defensive when confronted about gambling are some of the most common psychological symptoms that can be telling of the condition.

When grief and guilt kick in — seek help

Take action if you or your friends or family members feel guilt due to gambling activities and don’t know how to stop. It is common for people to feel a lot of shame for their gambling which would cause them to fight tooth and nail to mask the problem, but would only make things worse.

When you step up and decide to tackle the problem, know that you’ve shown an incredible amount of bravery. Instead of letting the wound fester and possibly lead to suicidal thoughts and thoughts about committing an illegal act to fund your gambling, reach out to professionals.

The mental stigma is not worth risking your life by denying the problem. Confine in a friend, family member, and someone you can trust, like a health professional. The moment you open up about the adversity you face, you’ve already made the first step towards making things good again.

Where to find resources for problem gambling in New Jersey

New Jersey is at the forefront of the development of problem gambling policies aimed at giving players more ways to exert control over their casino activities. All licensed operators must provide links to the Council on Compulsive Gambling New Jersey and partner with other programs and organizations that promote safe gambling.

The Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey

The Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, or CCGNJ, is a nonprofit organization that provides educational material and referral services to people affected by gambling problems. The organization has been helping people and their families for over 40 years, educating them on recognizing the problem and realizing that it is a treatable condition.

CCGNJ operates a toll-free 1-800-GAMBLER helpline available 24/7, offering confidential counseling and assistance. Players from New Jersey can also dial (609) 588-5515 for help. There is also a live chat service on the official website for all users.

The list of resources available from CCGNJ includes the 20-question form that can help with identifying the issue, links to registration forms for the self-exclusion program run by the DGE, information on the virtual and in-person meetings for problem gamblers, and instructions on how to use Gamban and BetBlocker, apps that block access to all gambling sites and apps worldwide.

National resources for problem gambling

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement lists information on national organizations that can also give advice and provide assistance to players facing a gambling predicament.

  • National Council on Problem Gambling: NCPG is an organization that serves as a national advocate for fair and safe gambling, working with state stakeholders in the development of policies and programs for those affected by problem gambling. NCPG operates the 1-800-GAMBLER National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, reachable round the clock, guaranteeing 100% confidentiality.
  • International Center for Responsible Gaming: Since 1996, the ICRG has been exploring gambling disorders and conducting research on the measures that can ensure responsible gambling and mitigate gambling harm.
  • Gamblers Anonymous: Gamblers Anonymous has been providing help and support to all individuals suffering from problem gambling since 1957. It is credited with creating the 12-step recovery program and holding anonymous meetings across the country. The local New Jersey branch is available at 1-855-222-5542.
  • GamTalk: GamTalk is a digital community where people share stories of overcoming the problem and can talk about the issues in chat rooms.

Practicing responsible casino gambling

The spread of online casinos in New Jersey has made it more challenging for players to maintain responsible gambling practices. These involve taking regular breaks, not treating gambling as a source of income, and always betting with the money you have set aside for gambling purposes.

Voluntary limit-setting is another good indicator that a person practices responsible casino gambling, which effectively nips in the bud any risk of having gambling slip out of hand.

Additionally, being aware of the risks involved in casino gambling at all times and that the activity should be a source of fun and entertainment is the key to actually enjoying oneself.