For first time gamblers, it can seem overwhelming to consider the different aspects of gambling. Slots can break down into many different categories alone, and we also have Table Games. There are bonuses, wagering, bonus restrictions, stakes, and a variety of options that set each casino apart from the rest. In this guide, we'll look at how you can approach gambling, if you choose to, in the safest way, and with the information you need to make sure you fully understand the decisions you will make.
Stay Financially Safe
A lot of people believe that no one can ever benefit from gambling, and as such is a bad decision from the start. That being said, gambling is one of the most lucrative industries worldwide, turning over billions of pounds yearly in revenue. Gambling can be enjoyed in a safe way, and viewed as a source of entertainment, provided it is approached in the correct way. It is important that gambling is not used as a source of income, and instead players understand that slots are entirely random and there is nothing we can do to advantage ourselves in terms of how a slot pays out.
There are multiple options available for players to keep their gambling safe and responsible, including deposit limits, cool-down periods, loss limits and time limits. Even for a first time player with no gambling problem, it is excellent to utilise these tools as preventative measures. Using these tools will ensure that your gambling remains entirely in your control, and will hopefully protect you from problems in the future. You can read more about the signs of problem gambling, or where to reach out for help here, or visit begambleaware.org for more information about the help available to those struggling.
It is important to set limits that you are comfortable with, and to not raise those limits if you have suffered a loss. It is also important to choose a stake that you are comfortable with, understanding that players can have both big wins, and big losses, on any stake. Similarly to the limits you will set, it is important not to raise your stakes if you suffer a loss, to try and win back your money – most commonly known as “chasing losses”. Players do not need to gamble on an extremely high stake in order to win when gambling, and it can be particularly dangerous to choose an extremely high stake if your choice will be to play the highest volatility slots. More information on stakes, and how much they matter, is available in our Debunking Slot Myths: Do Stakes Matter article, available here.
For players who feel as though they are struggling with a gambling disorder, there are avenues available for help. GAMSTOP is a free, online self exclusion scheme that allows players to self exclude from UKGC licensed gambling websites within Great Britain. However, all licensed casinos also have a “cool-down” period option, where players who feel as though they are at risk can lock their account for any amount of time from 24 hours to 6 months. This is an excellent preventative tool for players who are concerned that they may chase a loss, or perhaps are in a financial situation in their life where they should not be gambling at all.
Often when a player signs up to a new casino, there will be a Welcome Bonus Offer. Usually, this works in one of two ways, with either a sticky or a non sticky bonus. Within the UK, bonuses cannot be sticky, but outside the UK players can be offered either. A non-sticky bonus works by keeping cash and bonus money separate. If a player has a 100% match up offer, and deposits £/€100 they will receive £/€100 in bonus funds. Bonus funds will then be kept separate from cash money, with cash money used first.
There are often requirements attached to a bonus, including wagering, maximum stakes, and differing contributions depending on the game chosen, and it is important to fully understand the complexities of these requirements to make sure you aren't accused of bonus abuse, and to make sure any cash outs that come from a bonus safely make their way to you. Should you receive a sticky bonus, this means that your bonus and cash funds are together from the offset, and you enter into wagering straight away. This means that the requirements listed below bind you from the moment you deposit, until you have completed your wagering.
Lets look at some of the most common requirements associated with taking a bonus:
- Wagering: This is the thing that is guaranteed from taking a bonus – wagering requirements, and most of the other requirements stem from these. These usually vary from anywhere between 35x to 50x, and are pretty easy to understand. Basically, if you receive a bonus of £100, and have 35x wagering attached, it means you must wager the bonus money 35 times, meaning you must wager £3,500 worth of money. Wagering is simply spending – money spent is money wagered regardless of whether you win or lose. 100 spins played through at £1 stake is £100 wagered, regardless of your balance at the end of those 100 spins. Once you have completed wagering, any balance you have remaining moves into your cash funds and is withdrawable. Every casino has a different approach towards their wagering, with some 35x terms being 35x the cash and bonus balance, and others being just 35x the bonus money. It is important to always read the fine print when you take a bonus, and if in doubt, contact support to ask.
- Maximum Stakes: Whilst in the process of completing wagering, there are usually maximum stakes at which players can play at. This is usually £5, and is an extremely important rule to abide by. Some casinos will not allow you to place a bet higher than £5 when you are in wagering, but others do not have an automatic system to moderate this, and in the instance that you do break these terms you can find yourself being forbidden to cash out. Of course, mistakes happen and we like to think that casinos can be quite understanding and try their best to help out, but the easiest way to avoid one of these situations is to be aware of, and stick to the rules. A message will usually pop up when you go into bonus money, so once you see this message you know your requirements have started.
- Table Games: Each casino is different with their view towards table games and wagering requirements. Some casinos allow smaller total bets to be placed across table games (for example: £50) whilst others do not allow table game bets to contribute towards wagering requirements. The most important thing to be aware of, though, is whether or not a casino allows table game bets at all within bonus funds, or if placing one of these bets will put a potential cash out in jeopardy. As with each of the requirements, the safest thing to do is read the terms and conditions of the site you are playing on. Alternatively, you can contact Live Support with any questions regarding bonus funds. Most casinos offer 24/7 support including an instantaneous Live Chat, but make sure you have an answer before taking any risks.
- Slot Contributions: Differing games may have different contributions towards your wagering requirements. Often, you will find that grinding games such as Lil' Devil, or the highest volatility games such as Dead or Alive 2, do not contribute towards wagering requirements. Whilst some casinos will still allow you to play these games within bonus funds, others will not allow you to play these games with a bonus balance. Be aware that you could be playing a game that does not fully contribute, or contribute at all, but as always this will be fully explained. You will be able to find a full list of all slots and their contributions within the terms and conditions of the casino. There are some casinos that have very few games that fully contribute towards wagering, and instead have a large selection of their slots that only contribute 50%, but be aware that there are many casinos with wagering that is considered a lot fairer for players.
- Bonus Abuse: Be careful with how you approach your spending within bonus funds. As mentioned above, some casinos allow players to bet on grinding games whilst in wagering. What is not allowed, is to build one of these games within bonus funds, with the intent to collect upon this investment in raw cash. An example of this would be a player building Lil' Devil up to one heart before the heartstopper feature within bonus money, then coming back within raw cash, opening the heart stopper, and then cashing this money out. We cannot discourage this enough – this is considered bonus abuse and should you do something like this, you will find yourself being denied your cash out at the very least, and at the very most your account could be closed, not just to the individual casino in question, but to all casinos within that group.
Understand Available Support
Aside from the financial help we mentioned above, there is a variety of support available at casinos. Usually, help is available 24/7 including a Live Chat. Should you have any questions regarding your account, your financial safety, bonuses, or general enquiries, support staff are there to help.
Verifying Your Identity
Verifying your identity is of the utmost importance when gambling online. Often, you will be asked for photographic identification, proof of address, and proof of your bank card or details. It is important to provide the correct details when signing up to an online casino. This is to ensure you have the appropriate identification when you may be asked for it. Some casinos offer a section within your account to verify yourself immediately rather than waiting to be asked. If this is on offer we recommend utilising this. It is better to verify yourself sooner, to avoid any delays with deposits or withdrawals in the future.
When it comes to deposits, it is important to always use your own payment method, and your own account. Usually, you will be expected to withdraw via the same means as your most recent deposit. If someone else's debit card is used to deposit into your account, you will find yourself in trouble, and unable to cash out. If you allow someone else to use your account, you will again find yourself open to having your account closed. An account used for gambling should only be used by the person who owns it. Accounts should only be funded with that person's money, from their account. It is the best way to keep everyone safe.
Source of Wealth
Often you will hear people talking about being asked for “source of wealth” from an online casino. This is becoming more common as the regulations surrounding gambling are being adapted to protect players more. A source of wealth is a document to provide to a casino to show that you can afford to gamble at the level you are. A source of wealth does not need to show that you are alarmingly wealthy. Instead, it is intended to show that you are gambling at a level that you are comfortable with. It should also show your gambling maintains your safety both financially and mentally. This is the most important thing.
There are a variety of things considered appropriate for a source of wealth documentation, including proof of savings. The most common and widely accepted, though, is a bank statement showing incomings and outgoings. Once a player has been asked for source of wealth, the account is usually locked. You cannot deposit until the source of wealth has been provided. Whilst it can annoy some players, it is in place to ensure players gamble responsibly.
And that's it! These are most of the topics you should understand and be aware of before opening an account. Above all else, remember to be responsible and keep yourself safe. Gamble only with what you can afford to lose and never chase your losses. Also, be sure to keep yourself at stakes you are comfortable with. Remember that gambling should only be viewed as a source of entertainment, and not a source of income.
When the fun stops, stop. Visit BeGambleAware.org for more info.