How to gamble responsibly – step by step

Gambling is an extremely popular form of entertainment for a lot of people around the world. Everyone can enjoy it, as long as he follows some reasonable boundaries. This article suggests very practical suggestions from Responsible Gaming Foundation, which users should follow in order to practice responsible gaming.

Choose only licensed operators

It is very important to use only licensed operators that guarantee you security and reliability. There are a lot of risks involving unlicensed operators, regarding your personal data. Before choosing an operator, check whether the brand has a license on the National Revenue Agency website.

You can check a list of the licensed operators here.

You can check a list of the unlicensed operators here.

Set a money limit

It is important to set a budget and stick to it because it is hard to pay attention to how much money you spend during the heat of the game. Don’t allow yourself to gamble with money that is intended for groceries and rent. It is also wrong to expect that by continuing the game you will return the money you have already gambled. Often, this leads to larger losses.

Limit the time you spend gambling

The same way you have to set a money limit, you have to set a time limit before every game. After you do so, make sure to follow it, whether you win or lose.

Remember – gambling is just for fun

When the fun ends, you need to stop. Gambling is a form of entertainment you need to approach the same way as going to an amusement park – you pay, and you receive an experience that does not guarantee profit. If, at any point during the game, you start to feel more stress than enjoyment – it is time to stop playing. Strong negative emotions may cause you to act irresponsible.

Don’t be too superstitious

It is common for everyone to have a favourite game, lucky table, or favoured number. But don’t forget that gambling is entirely generated by luck and possibility, which are never guaranteed. If you have a bad series, it is best to stop and not hope that you will return what you have gambled, even if you are sitting in the luckiest spot at the casino.

Add different activities for your leisure time

Make sure that your free time is not entirely occupied with gambling. Ensure that you will make time to meet a friend, attend a family gathering, watch some series or take a walk in the park. There are many ways to have fun, and gambling is just one of them.

Don’t borrow money and don’t use credit card for bets

Play only with money that you can afford to lose. Keep in mind that gambling is not a way to pay off debts and get rich easily, but a form of entertainment. If you start borrowing money or using a credit card for gambling, immediately share this with your family and friends and search for help.

You can contact the National Information Line of Association “Solidarnost” at 0 888 99 18 66 and seek help and advice on how to quit gambling and to find out how to treat gambling addiction.

Following these steps would help each user turn the game into entertainment and protect himself from the risks of gambling addiction.

Marina Popova Interview

Marina Popova is a psychologist at the “Solidarnost” Association for Rehabilitation of Addicted People – a nongovernmental organization, established in 2006. She has years of experience in the field of rehabilitation and resocialization of addicts. During this conversation she explains the benefits of the National Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling Helpline, which provides several different options for prevention and treatment.

– The Responsible Gaming Foundation funds the National Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling Helpline, and this is already leading to real results. How do you measure the public significance of the helpline?

Yes, to our delight, in 2022, the Responsible Gaming Foundation has decided to support the National Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling Helpline. Thanks to this cooperation, we managed to preserve it and till this day it continues to function. Before that, it was in real danger of being closed down. Its activity does not generate income and does not make any profit, which is why we need the financial support of partners. The helpline is the only anonymous and free service in Bulgaria that provides initial support and guidance to solve the problem of gaming addicts and their relatives. Contacting us is very easy – just call us, join our chat, or send us an email. There are no preconditions or restrictions on who can contact us.

Although our activities are mainly aimed at individuals within the territory of the country, we often need to consult people who are abroad. Their situation is often even more critical because not everyone speaks the local language fluently, and they have no way to seek help in the place they are. Thousands of people have contacted us over the years and hundreds of thousands have visited our site. The helpline is like first aid for people with a gambling problem who need support, initial counselling, information and referral for treatment. Therein, the helpline operation is truly of public importance, and we believe that we must preserve it at all costs.

Tell us a little bit more about how the hotline works?

We would like to clarify that, unfortunately, it is not a hotline. We are not able to work 24 hours a day, every day. For the moment, we manage to maintain working hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every working day. In these days and hours, people can contact consultants directly by phone or chat, and the rest of the time they can send emails with their questions.

The helpline was created in 2008 by the “Solidarnost” Association for Rehabilitation of Addicted Peolpe following the example of the long-existing similar helplines in most European countries, which number more than 50. The colleagues from one of the Dutch information lines trained us and gave us the model they work on. Our main activity is to provide anonymously and free of charge to the whole society extensive and reliable information and initial consultation about the effects and risks of drug and alcohol use, problem gaming, addictions and methods of their treatment, places of help in the country, as well as guidelines for parents, relatives and teachers.

– Based on your practice, what are the most common first signs of gaming addiction in our country and what is your advice to people who recognize its in themselves?

The first signs are often noticed by the family and relatives of the person who has a problem with gambling or addiction. Often, the addict is the last one who realizes that there is a problem. Relatives are also those who usually seek help first. When they call the line, usually things have already gotten out of control and there are some debts accumulated. The addict usually lies to conceal the scale of the problem, the frequency of his game and other negative consequences. Very often there are serious problems in the family as a result of the losses and lies. The workplace of the addict and the circle of friends are also suffering because of this type of behavior. We must not forget that addiction can also seriously affect people’s mental health. For example, many people tell us that they suffer from depression.

I would encourage anyone who is worried about himself or a loved one to seek help and advice on the helpline without delay and without fear of judgement. No one is immune to the development of a problem, but it is important to be consulted on time and not try to deal with it alone. Addiction is a serious disease that requires the intervention of specialists. The sooner the better.

– How do people with gaming addiction rank in the general picture of addictions in Bulgaria?

For a few years now, we have noticed that seeking help for gaming addiction has become an ever-growing trend. This is the reason why we began to deal more actively with this addiction – to provide more information to society and to the people in need, to try to attract the attention of politicians, institutions, and the media. But up to this point, the only ones who have responded are the representatives of the gambling industry.

There is also the problem of treatment possibilities, but that could be a topic for another conversation.

– Last year, together with the Responsible Gaming Foundation, you organized two trainings. What is your feedback and do you foresee other similar events this year?

Yes, at the end of September last year, the first training on the topic “First symptoms of gaming addiction in players at risk” took place. Techniques for interventions to reduce the risk of developing gaming addiction took place. Speakers were Svetoslav Kirilov, therapeutic director of “Solidarnost” and Marina Popova, psychologist of the helpline. The training was attended by over 50 people from the gambling industry, with the main goal was to improve their skills in recognizing the first signs of gaming addiction and discuss strategies for working with clients with problem gaming or people at risk of gaming addiction. In November, a master class followed, the purpose of which was to consolidate and upgrade the knowledge of the participants. The hosts of the event were Svetoslav Kirilov and Dilyana Bondokova, a psychologist in the “Solidarnost” program. The purpose of the joint work of the Association and the Foundation is to keep gambling within the realm of fun and enjoyment, rather than becoming a problem, with industry’s workers being the main ambassadors and collaborators of the mission. The participants were very active and interested and we hope to maintain the fruitful tone of cooperation.

In 2023, new trainings and joint events of the “Solidarnost” Association for Rehabilitation of Addicted Peolpe and Responsible Gaming Foundation are coming.

How to recognize the first signs of gambling addiction?

Technologies are increasingly entering the modern world, and it seems that even we don’t pay enough attention to their huge presence in our daily lives. Not only while we are working but also in our personal lives, the Internet is now an integral part of our being. The fast progress of new technologies often does not give us enough time to protect ourselves from the challenges and dangers that come with them. And all this is mixed with the conventional way of life, in which we buy our food from the neighborhood supermarket and our clothes from some big mall. And now we are living between the earth and the clouds. It is difficult for us to strike a balance with simple things like whether to pay our electricity bills online or through one of the household bill counters. This also applies if we are the type of people who like to have fun in the form of betting, whether in the gaming room or live on a site. In the current difficult economic environment, where we wander from crisis to crisis, as well as the ever-increasing prices of products, we are vulnerable to easy success and the desire to accumulate money quickly. And this, on the background of our passion for games, leads to the danger of addiction: gambling addiction.

Since 2015, The Responsible Gaming Foundation, established by the two Bulgarian entrepreneurs Rossi McKee and Milo Borissov, has been protecting the principles of socially responsible practices in the gaming industry. With its many years of experience, the organization has contributed to the introduction of many policies in the field, the aim of which is prevention and support of vulnerable persons.

In October 2022, The Responsible Gaming Foundation (RGF) financially supported The National Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling Helpline, which is staffed by psychologists from the “Solidarnost” Association for Rehabilitation of Addicted People.

Together with them, the experts from RGF identified some of the most common first signs of gambling addiction, which are often observed among people with similar problems.

Here they are:

  • You want to play more and more, especially after losing;
  • It seems to you that once you start winning, it will continue indefinitely;
  • It’s hard for you to stop, even when you promise not to play again;
  • You have financial difficulties because you are spending more than the game funds;
  • You borrow money and even “temporarily steal” to have money to play;
  • You also play during working hours (online) trying to recover your losses or win more;
  • Any other activity that you used to think was fun starts to turn into an unwanted obligation for you.

If you find some of the signs described above in yourself, then you must definitely think about your approach to the game – are these not the earliest signs of a behavioral deviation that will lead to addiction? RGF experts recommend seeking professional advice to prevent developing a gambling addiction. One of the ways is to contact the experts of “Solidarity” on the phone +359888 99 18 66. Your call is anonymous and free of charge throughout the country.

EGBA: If we can identify problematic gaming behaviour earlier, we will transform the industry

„Being able to identify problem gambling behaviour much earlier is the one thing that I think can transform the industry“, said Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), during a recent interview.

In the course of the conversation, Haijer commented that a better understanding of problem gambling could fundamentally change the sector.  According to him, this will ensure that recreational players can continue to play in a safe and competitive environment, and, most importantly, help prevent gambling-related harm from occurring in the first place. He explained that EGBA has proposed a European standard on markers of harm, and the process to develop this voluntary standard will begin this year. The eventual standard will lead to a commonly agreed standardised list of markers of harm, based on the best available research, that operators can use to help them detect problem gambling behavior in a more accurate and timely way. He said that the process itself of creating the standard will be an invaluable opportunity for gambling stakeholders to come together, pull expertise, and collaborate on an issue of joint importance: safer gambling.

The General Secretary of EGBA explained that there needs to be a stronger culture of industry responsibility and cooperation across the entire gambling sector in Europe. He also added that far too many operators still sit on the periphery of the sector and do not take part in these processes. He commented that this attitude damages the whole sector. Haijer concluded by saying “For 2023, I hope for a more engaged, constructive, and outwardly looking industry”.


Responsible Gaming Month with 20th anniversary in New York State

This March will be the 20th anniversary of the launch of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month in New York State. The New York State Gaming Commission, the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support, and the New York Council on Problem Gambling will organize а series of events, where participants will have the chance to gain more knowledge on the subject of responsible gaming and how to prevent addiction.

March 14th was a day for screening identification of people who are vulnerable and may suffer from problematic gambling. At the end of the month there will be a regional listening session organized with leaders from the problem gambling treatment community.

“Gambling oppоrtunities in Тhe Empire State continue to grow. This is why it is important for the local citizens to be aware of the multiple available instruments for responsible gaming”, said Robert Williams, executive director of The New York State Gaming Commission.

One of the leading supporters of the responsible gaming – Senator Joe Adabo commented that it is important that the efforts for dealing with addiction problems must be bolstered. “Recently, The New York State Gaming Commission accepted new rules on gambling advertisement”, he said and added that the aim of the these rules is to limit the exposure of sports betting marketing and commercials to underage bettors. In addition to that, the commission officials have approved a prohibition of misleading, deceptive or false statements.

The color associated with responsible gaming in New York State is yellow, and many buildings, landmarks, and gaming facilities in the state are illuminated in yellow for the whole month of March. Some of these properties, include the Albany International Airport Gateway, Empire State Plaza, Fairport Lift Bridge, Grand Central Terminal, Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex, and many others.