BetMGM’s GameSense: How to Keep Gambling Fun
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. BetMGM’s GameSense reminds you to bet for fun, not profit, with preset time limits and a budget.
You’re asked to check out a lineup of everyday people: a businessperson, a laborer, a stay-at-home parent, a teacher, a mechanic, a police officer.
Quick! Can you find the problem gambler in this group?
The answer is probably no. Anyone in that lineup could be the problem gambler. Unlike some compulsive behaviors, problem gambling is an invisible affliction, with few outward signs that an individual is struggling. It affects young and old, male and female, blue-collar and white-collar.
As we head into March, Problem Gambling Awareness Month, BetMGM is spreading the word about problem gambling, also called gambling disorder, to help you identify and manage it. The goal is to promote “safer gaming.”
Since 2017, MGM Resorts has offered its GameSense responsible gaming initiative to customers at its U.S. casinos and online, at BetMGM. Recognized multiple times by the National Council on Problem Gambling, GameSense helps players make informed decisions to keep gambling fun.
For more information about problem gambling, including self-management tips for gamblers, visit GameSense.com.
To start, it may help to know how casino games work. First and foremost, winning is not a matter of good fortune, but chance. Slot games, for example, include a computer program called a random number generator (RNG), which ensures a random outcome on each and every play.
When you play a slot machine with an 80% payout over the life of the machine, it doesn’t mean you’ll leave with 80% of the money you started with. The laws of probability mean some players will win, some will win big, and others will break even—but most will lose.
So in the case of the 80% game, the odds to win any payout are approximately 1 in 5. But the odds to win the top prize are only 1 in 373,248. Pretty steep.
Some slots pay smaller prizes more frequently and offer more bonus games. Others pay out less frequently but more often in the middle- and top-prize categories, that’s referred to as volatility. The chances of winning smaller prizes on slots are greater than the chances of winning top prizes. The point is, these games are entertainment, not a way to make money.
It’s Never ‘Your Turn’ to Win
When it comes to gambling, persistence doesn’t pay off, and it could cost you. Each play of each game is an independent event, with the same odds of winning or losing as every other play on that game. There’s no way to predict a win. And you’re never “due for a win.”
No ‘Hot Machines’
In a casino, nothing about a machine’s location or the way you play affects the outcome of a game. Slot wins and losses are always random, with no predictable pattern. It’s the same in an online casino. There are no hot machines or games, no lucky numbers or good-luck charms.
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, help is available. For more information and resources, visit the National Council on Problem Gambling at ncpgambling.org.
What’s Luck Got to Do with It?
The good news is that luck isn’t against you when you gamble. But that’s because luck has nothing to do with it. Again, the outcome of any game is completely random, and the only thing you can count on is unpredictability.
Many people dream of winning the lottery or getting the “perfect” poker hand. But do you know what the real chances are? When you flip a coin, there’s always a one in two chance you’ll land on heads. But when you chase the big jackpot, the odds are usually stacked against you.
Here are some sensible tips to keep gambling fun, courtesy of BetMGM and GameSense:
- Take frequent breaks from gambling. Taking a break can help you make smarter decisions, so gambling stays what it should be—a fun, entertaining activity.
- Set a time limit before you play, decide on your budget in advance—and stick to it. Only spend what you can afford to lose. GameSense allows you to set those limits electronically and warns you when you are approaching them.
- Play for fun, not to make money. If you gamble, the result is never certain, and losing is always a possibility, mostly a probability. Consider gambling a form of entertainment, like going out for dinner or seeing a movie.
- Wondering if you can win back losses by playing more? It’s possible, but unlikely. Chances are the more you play, the more money you’ll lose. “Chasing losses” almost always leads to bigger losses.
Play with your head, not over it. Learn the signs and symptoms of problem gambling—and ways to manage it—at the International Center for Responsible Gaming. Visit icrg.org.
GameSense: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Problem Gambling
For the vast majority of people, gambling is entertainment, an amusing pastime. They enjoy their time at the slots or tables, then walk away, win or lose.
For other people, the thrill or excitement of gambling can become part of a compulsion. These people can’t resist the impulse to gamble. They could be problem gamblers.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person may have a gambling problem if he or she has at least four of the problems below in a 12-month period, along with “persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior:”
- Needing to gamble with more money to get the same excitement from gambling as before
- Feels restless or irritable when trying to reduce or stop gambling
- Keeps trying to reduce or stop gambling without success
- Gambling is frequently on the person’s mind—both reliving past gambling experiences and planning future gambling events
- Gambles when feeling depressed, guilty, or anxious
- Tries to win back gambling losses
- Lies to cover up how much they are gambling
- Loses not only money, but also relationships, their job, or a significant career opportunity as a result of gambling
- Becomes dependent on other people to give them money to deal with financial problems that have been caused by gambling
It’s important to know that gambling disorder is a treatable illness, and a person can lead a productive life after finding help and recovery. For more information and resources, call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit 1800gambler.net. For more on problem gambling, including how to self-exclude, click here.