What is Responsible Gambling?

Poker Machine

Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of engaging, or actively engaging, in problem gambling.

The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. This means there are up to five million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.

The terms “responsible gambling” or “gamble responsibly” are seen on government harm minimisation messages and in fine print after gambling advertisements but what is responsible gambling? Is it like responsible ice use or responsible dangerous driving? Is it possible to gamble responsibly?

Let’s look at problem gambling first;

Problem gambling is characterised by difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others, or the community.

So, what is responsible gambling?

When a patron uses the gambling facilities and uses strategies to prevent themselves from developing a problem, such as

  • Making an informed choice about using gambling products
  • Not gambling more than they can afford
  • By limiting time gambling
  • Having a realistic expectation of their chances of winning and the likelihood of losing
  • Ensuring that gambling will not impact on their relationship
  • Ensuring that gambling will not impact on their work/education.
  • The first point, about informed choice, is often bypassed when your emotions make the choices and they are not regulated by your head. There is nothing wrong with your intellect. You know the odds are against you yet that goes out the window.

So… gamble responsibly. At times total avoidance could be the most responsible choice. A bit like dangerous driving; is it worth the risk?


Samaritans hosts a free GamblingHelp Gambling Counselling service in the Hunter & Mid North Coast regions of NSW. Click for more info or to book an appointment.