Responsible Gambling in South Africa
For most people, gambling is harmless entertainment. However, without the necessary awareness and discipline, gambling can turn into a compulsive behaviour with negative consequences.
On this page, you will learn how you can make sure you are playing responsibly at all times. We also discuss the various Responsible Gambling tools available at South African online casinos and provide contact information to professional help organisations and counsellors.
What is Responsible Gambling?
Responsible Gambling is a set of social initiatives set by the gambling industry and implemented by governments and regulatory bodies worldwide. These initiatives have been created to ensure fairness and create social awareness around the possible harmful effects of irresponsible gambling.
These initiatives are implemented through codes of practice and protocols that vary slightly depending on country and jurisdiction. They are also implemented differently at land-based and online casinos.
In South Africa, responsible gambling practices and protocols are stipulated and maintained by the South African Responsible Gaming Foundation (SARGF). SARGF is a public-private initiative between the government and South Africa gambling operators, funded through voluntary contributions from South African casino, sports betting, bingo and limited pay-out machine industries.
Through The National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP), SARGF offers prevention programmes and training to industry operators and regulators. In conjunction with these programmes, the organisation conducts treatment programmes for individuals who have been negatively affected by gambling.
Responsible Gambling at South African Online Casinos
All online casinos catering to the South African market are registered overseas and regulated by gambling authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority and the Curaçao Gaming Commission.
As such, these casinos follow strict protocols for how to monitor players and prevent harmful gambling. If they did not, they would have their licenses revoked.
In many jurisdictions, failure to comply with these mandatory protocols may result in hefty fines or complete suspension of a casino’s license.
As online casinos cannot physically monitor players, they offer tools that help players manage how much money and time they spend playing. These tools are also an effective way of becoming aware of their gambling habits.
The tools may vary slightly depending on casino and jurisdiction, but essentially, we are talking about various gambling limits that players can set themselves.
These are the different gambling limits offered by most South African online casinos:
- Deposit limits – Limits how much can deposit.
- Session limits – Limits how much time you can spend playing.
- Loss Limits – Limits how much you can lose. This limit applies to your net losses and relates to the balance you had at the start of the set period. For example, if you have set a loss limit of R2000 and had R5000 at the beginning of a period, you cannot play once your balance reaches R3000.
- Wager Limits – Limits how much can bet within a period.
- Self-Exclusion – An option to close your account temporarily or permanently.
Gambling limits can be set on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You can lower a limit at any time, but when you raise a limit, the changes are not implemented until the current period has elapsed.
How to Know if You Are Playing Responsibly
Alongside gambling limits, many casinos provide self-assessments that allow players to detect a potential gambling problem quickly.
These quick assessments are a series of yes-or-no questions that give the player a final score. Based on the test score, the casinos can gauge whether the player is already suffering from or potentially developing a gambling problem.
Here are some common questions that can instantly indicate if there is a developing gambling problem:
- Do you borrow money to play?
- Do you play when you are feeling depressed or anxious?
- Do you try to win your losses back?
- Have friends or family members expressed that they think you are playing too much?
- Do you ever exceed your gambling budget?
- Do you ever play for longer than you originally intended?
If you answered a yes to any of the questions, we recommend you make use of your casino’s gambling limits. Depending on how many questions you answered yes to, it may also be advisable to contact any of the help organisations listed below.
Players who feel that they have lost control over their gambling can request a self-exclusion at any time.
They can either perform this self-exclusion by themselves in their account settings or contact the casino’s customer support and ask to have the self-exclusion set for them.
Self-exclusions are set on a weekly, monthly or permanent basis and can never be lifted prematurely.
When a player requests a permanent self-exclusion, he or she will never be able to play with the casino again. In such circumstances, it is also customary for the casino to provide the player with contact information to organisations offering professional counselling and support.
Seeking Professional Help
If a player’s gambling habits have spiralled out of control, he or she must seek professional help. South African players can contact NRGP’s toll-free Problem Gambling Counselling Line, which is open 24/7.
Here is the contact information:
- Website: https://responsiblegambling.org.za/treatment-programme/
- Gambling Helpline Number: 0800 006 008
The NRGP’s national network comprises 75 treatment professionals and confidential outpatient treatment and counselling services.
Apart from the SARGF and NRGP, there are several international organisations offering valuable information on responsible gambling.
Here are a few examples:
Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women supporting individuals suffering from gambling problems by spreading information and conducting programmes and meetings worldwide. Gamblers Anonymous has offices in Johannesburg and Gauteng.
Gamcare is a respected organisation offering counselling and help to affected players in England, Scotland and Wales. However, the Gamcare website also provides valuable information on money management and other aspects of responsible gambling.