Making Online Gaming Safe for All

Online casino companies everywhere are examining the issue of responsible gaming. What’s more, many of them are actively working to inform their employees and customers of the dangers of reckless gambling, and they’re seeking ways of minimizing such behavior. Ladbrokes provides an example of such social conscience within the Internet casino industry. This company, which is headquartered in London, has established a committee that will devise policies to promote safe gaming. This group will meet at least three times annually and will report to the company’s board. It’s charged with devising safe gaming policies and measuring their effectiveness over time. For instance, the group will research the warning signals of risky gambling so that Ladbrokes can identify clients who exhibit those signs. Similarly, Pentasia, an international company that was founded in 2001 and that recruits employees on behalf of online casinos, is now providing training about responsible gaming for people who work in this field. Specifically, it teaches employees the signs and dangers of risky gambling and how they can intercede whenever they believe that an Internet gamer has developed an addiction. In June 2014, a conference called Gaming in Holland took place in Amsterdam. This convention allowed leaders of the Internet gaming industry to network with one another, and it also provided an educational session on responsible gaming and relevant laws. Renowned addiction expert Pieter Remmers — who once advised the Dutch Ministry of Justice on safe gambling — led this seminar. Indeed, the Netherlands is poised to pass a major legislative package that will regulate online gaming. The European Commission (EC), which serves as the European Union’s executive branch, is also considering the implementation of new online casino rules. It may soon require that all Internet gaming advertisements warn people that gaming can be addictive. The EC is likewise advising that European nations regulate gaming advertising as they regulate tobacco advertising. As it stands now, the laws concerning gambling ads can vary widely between one European country and another. In some nations, independent groups are also working to foster safe gaming practices. For instance, the Responsible Gaming Council (RGC) is a nonprofit organization based in Ontario, and its members study gambling addiction and educate the public about its causes. Further, the RGC has developed an accreditation program called RG Check. Any international online casino can apply to the RGC for RG Check status, and the organization will then assess the ways in which that company protects consumers from harmful gaming. The experts at the RGC have 51 criteria that they look for, and the accreditation program takes six months to complete. And in order to maintain its RG Check status, an online casino must submit to an annual RGC inspection. Gambling is the only behavior-based — as opposed to substance-based — form of addiction that the American Psychiatric Association recognizes. New research suggests that a person who’s predisposed to a gambling addiction may have a hyperactive insular cortex. The insular cortex — also known as the insula — is the part of the brain that controls many cognitive functions, including self-awareness. When the insula is overactive, it can lead a gamer to the delusion that he or she is about to hit a winning streak when in fact that person has already suffered heavy losses. Happily, there’s plenty of hope for gambling addicts today. Discoveries related to the role that the insular cortex plays in problem gaming may yield effective therapies, including new drugs. In addition, pre-commitment technologies may also prove useful. Pre-commitment technologies are systems through which a gambler is unable to continue playing after he or she has reached a certain limit. For example, imagine that you’re playing poker at an online casino. Before you even start to play, you might set a certain limit for yourself: an hour of play, for example, or perhaps a certain amount of money lost. Once you reach that limit, you’ll automatically be shut out of the game. In all of this, the future looks bright for online casinos and those who love them. When Internet gaming companies recognize and find creative ways of dealing with irresponsible gambling, all of their customers can enjoy gaming for what it’s intended to be: a fun, challenging, and ever-exciting diversion.

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