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10 ways to stay safe while gambling

Friday 13 October 2017 Student Mental Health

Gambling Commission figures recently showed the real danger that gambling can pose to students. With over 100,000 students in some form of gambling debt and one in eight undergraduates having missed lectures or seminars because of gambling, we need to think more about how students can be protect themselves from harmful gambling.

Students can fall into problem gambling for any number of reasons. The financial pressures facing students continue to mount and gambling can be seen as a quick fix for money problems. 

But gambling can quickly escalate out of control, and addiction can cause you to lose huge amounts of money in a very short amount of time. This can be a particular problem for students with existing mental health issues.

With that in mind, here are a number of ways to help make sure that you dont fall into damaging gambling habits:

1. Ask yourself why you are gambling – Think carefully about your motivations to gamble; are you gambling to escape debt or as a way to make quick money? Gambling should not be seen as the answer to improving your personal finances – always seek support from a financial adviser or student support services instead.

2. Monitor how often you’re gambling online ­- websites must provide access to your historic account activity. This means you can see exactly when and how you’ve been gambling over time, helping you understand your habits and make well-informed choices about what to do next.

3. Keep track of how much time you’ve spent gambling – With a reality check, you can set alerts to pop up on screen, which help you to monitor the time spent gambling either online or on gaming machines in a betting shop.

4.Limit how much you can spend – if you’re concerned about how much money you’re gambling, you can set a limit on how much you spend on individual gambling products. You can also set a limit on how much you spend on gaming machines in a betting shop.

5. Give yourself a timeout - During a timeout, you can block yourself from playing for a set amount of time of up to 6 weeks, and even bar yourself from gambling during a specific time of day.

6. Need a longer break? Self-exclude from gambling firms for a minimum of 6 months - If you think you are spending too much time or money gambling – whether online or in gambling premises – you can ask to be self-excluded. This is when you ask the company to stop you from gambling with them for a period of time. The exclusion will last for a minimum of at least six months. Self-exclusion can be used if you think you have a problem with gambling and want help to stop. We are also working with industry representatives to develop a national online self-exclusion scheme, which should be in place by the end of next year.

7. Read the terms and conditions – Almost 80 per cent of gamblers haven’t read the T&Cs of the websites they are gambling on. By understanding exactly what you are gambling on, and what restrictions are attached to promotions and bonus offers (such as a minimum spend level before the bonus is paid), you can make more informed decisions.

8. Make sure the website you’re gambling with is licensed – make sure you’re gambling with a Gambling Commission licensed business. This means you’ll be protected by gambling and consumer protection rules in Great Britain. Licensed gambling businesses must display that they are licensed and provide a link to the licence register where you can see what type of activities they are allowed to offer and also if they have had any regulatory action taken against them. 

9. Check how your money is protected – Any gambling business that holds customer funds must explain in their T&Cs how customer funds are protected if the business goes bust - this should help you decide who you want to gamble with.

10. Feel it’s getting too much? Talk to someone – there are a number of gambling support groups available if you feel your gambling is getting out of control or too much. More information about the signs of problem gambling can be found on the Gambleaware and Gamcare websites. They also provide general information about gambling, including how to gamble safely and where to get help if you or someone you know has problems with their gambling.

The Gambling Commission are running an in-depth study into the trends and behaviours of those that gamble at university and is calling all students to take part: Take the survey now. 

For more info or advice on protecting students from harmful gambling, get in touch with NUS Vice President (Welfare) Izzy Lenga at