Responsible Gambling

How To Bet On Sports Responsibly

Responsible gambling

Sports betting can be a source of great fun and entertainment, but it is crucial to always practice responsible gambling to ensure sports betting remains a positive experience. Some are better than others at recognizing limits and practicing moderation when they bet on sports, and it is important to watch out for signs of problem gambling in yourself or in those you care about.

Here at we provide a wealth of advice designed to help you bet on sports in an informed and knowledgeable way. We write both for the casual sports bettor and experienced gamblers with a goal toward helping you increase your awareness when you gamble, which in turn should make gambling a more positive experience for you. 

We want you to be aware about how to gamble responsibly, as well as where you should go if you need help with problem gambling. 

What does it mean to practice responsible gambling?

Within the gambling industry, the term “responsible gambling” is a central concept covering both recommended practices to gamblers as well as a set of guidelines for gambling providers to follow. 

When it comes to those who participate in sports betting, responsible gambling means always being aware of how much time and money is spent when doing so. But responsible gambling covers other aspects of wagering on sports, too, all designed to help prevent causing harm or making gambling into a negative activity. 

When it comes to those who run retail and online sportsbooks (and even outlets like, responsible gambling covers how betting opportunities are provided and/or described to potential customers. Sportsbooks need to be licensed and regulated in the jurisdictions where they operate. Most states require them to follow explicit policies and institute certain mechanisms to promote responsible gambling. 

Responsible gambling tips for sports bettors

If you like to bet on sports, either at an online sportsbook or in person at a retail location, what follows is a list of tips to help ensure you are gambling responsibly. 

  • Always keep a record of how much you bet on sports, as well as your wins and losses.
  • Set limits on how much you wager on sports and if possible keep a separate “bankroll” for sports betting that entirely consists of discretionary funds earmarked for entertainment or non-essentials.
  • Don’t bet on sports with money you need to pay bills (e.g., mortgage payments, rent, food, gas, etc.).
  • Never borrow money from others with which to make sports bets.
  • Try not to bet on sports when you are feeling stressed, tired or anxious. Don’t let emotions dictate your betting decisions.
  • Avoid betting on sports when you are intoxicated and not thinking clearly.
  • When you win a sports wager, don’t foolishly “let it ride” and make an ill-informed wager with your winnings. Also, don’t let a win cause you to start betting higher amounts than exceed what you are comfortable wagering.
  • When you lose a sports wager, don’t foolishly “chase your losses” and make desperate bets to try to get back what you lost. 

These tips apply to all types of real money gambling, so if you enjoy playing other casino games you should also keep them in mind. 

Responsible gambling tips for sportsbook operators

Sportsbook operators also should follow certain recommended practices in order to help their customers gamble responsibly. 

  • All odds and payouts should be clearly posted, as well as any other pertinent information relevant to a particular wager. Players have to be able to weigh their risks and rewards in an informed way.  
  • Make sure the terms and conditions for all bonuses and promotions are clear to bettors.
  • Don’t promote gambling in ways that make light of problem gambling or “degenerate” behavior. That includes not advertising particular sports bets as guaranteed to win or otherwise misleading customers about their chances of profiting when they bet.
  • Create and enforce rules that discourage unsafe gambling behavior, and also police against underage gambling and other forms of illegal gambling. 
  • Track betting patterns (at online sportsbooks) to recognize trends that might indicate problem gambling and intervening when necessary.  
  • Train staff to recognize signs of unsafe or problem gambling, including (at retail sportsbooks) preventing patrons who are intoxicated or impaired from placing wagers.
  • Provide information about how to practice responsible gambling and about resources to consult to help prevent or treat problem gambling.
  • Offer methods for bettors to limit their wagering and/or self-exclude from wagering.

If you look around a legal, licensed online sportsbook, you should be able to find information about responsible gambling, including advice about how best to use the site in a responsible way. Even if you don’t think you need any advice about how to gamble responsibly, it is worth finding out what responsible gambling information an online sportsbook is providing. 

Sites that pay attention to responsible gambling are often also strong in other ways, including being conscientious about the security of players’ funds and personal information and being otherwise good with customer support.

You will likely find online sportsbooks provide ways to impose betting limits on yourself to help you manage how much you are wagering on the site. For those who suffer from problem gambling, the sites also usually have methods of self-exclusion available to enable bettors to ban themselves from the site either for a certain period of time or permanently. Retail sportsbooks also have similar measures in place.

How to define problem gambling

When exactly does gambling become “problem gambling” for someone? As with other addictions or types of self-destructive behavior, it can be difficult sometimes to know for sure whether or not a person has fallen into problem gambling. 

Making things even more difficult is the fact that sometimes sports bettors who have succumbed to problem gambling actively hide their betting from others. This can make it hard even for those who are close to the person to realize what is going on. 

There is no single definition of problem gambling that applies perfectly to everyone. That said, whenever gambling causes negative consequences in a person’s life (or in the lives of those who care about that person), that constitutes problem gambling. We are referring to negative consequences that go beyond the minor pain of losing a single sports wager, but extend into other areas of a person’s life. 

Sometimes problem gambling manifests itself in small ways, with seemingly minor issues later growing into large ones. At worst, problem gambling can cause catastrophic damage to the bettor and to others, too, including losing one’s savings, creating huge debts, and setting the stage for even greater problems affecting physical or mental health. 

Problem gambling destroys lives, and making it imperative for everyone who bets on sports or who cares about someone who bets on sports to be aware of the signs of problem gambling.

Below is a list of signs that might indicate a person’s sports betting is turning into problem gambling. Be wary of these signs when you bet on sports or when those you care about engage in sports betting.

  • Hiding sports betting from others
  • Lying about betting on sports
  • Acting angry or getting defensive when asked about sports betting
  • Becoming irritable or acting strangely when not being able to bet on sports
  • Spending more money or time betting on sports than planned
  • Letting sports betting distract from other responsibilities to family or friends
  • Experiencing feelings of guilt associated with betting on sports
  • Having big emotional swings related to sports betting
  • Borrowing money from others to bet on sports
  • Selling possessions, making surprise bank withdrawals, or getting cash advances unexpectedly or frequently
  • Missing or being late paying bills
  • Being late or absent from work or school
  • Neglecting one’s health or hygiene

Notice how individually these items might not necessarily be regarded as problems related to sports betting or gambling in particular. But all of them are examples of signs that can emerge in relation to problem gambling. 

National resources for problem gambling

If you or someone close to you is suffering from problem gambling or even just starting to show signs that gambling might be a problem, there are many ways to get help. 

In the US there are several national organizations that are excellent resources both to learn about responsible gambling and get help with problem gambling. Below are a few of the best known organizations that themselves provide information and help while also assisting with finding other resources, including local ones.

National Council on Problem Gambling

A great first place to visit for those seeking information or help is the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) website. There you’ll find many resources, including links to individual state organizations that provide different types of problem gambling support. 

The NCPG also has its own National Problem Gambling Helpline Network. You can call the toll-free helpline at 800-522-4700 any time of day or night, seven days a week. NCPG representatives are also ready and able to help you via live chat at

Gamblers Anonymous

You may have heard of Gamblers Anonymous, the national self-help organization patterned after the famous Alcoholics Anonymous program. Like AA, Gamblers Anonymous features a 12-step program designed to help individuals escape the perils of problem gambling. 

The organization also has local chapters that host support meetings all over the US. Go to the Gamblers Anonymous website and type in your location in order to learn where and when there are meetings near your location. You can also phone Gamblers Anonymous via its 24-7 toll-free hotline at 855-222-5542


Like Gamblers Anonymous, Gam-Anon uses a similar fellowship model to help with problem gambling. However, while Gamblers Anonymous is focused on the gamblers themselves, Gam-Anon aims to help those who are affected by others’ gambling such as family members and friends. 

Gam-Anon can get you (and those you care about) connected with counselors, health care providers, mental health professionals and others trained to help those affected by problem gambling and compulsive gambling. Visit the website to find out more about what Gam-Anon offers as well as meeting locations in your state.  


One more national organization and good resource to help with problem gambling is the online discussion forum GamTalk. The forum’s purpose is to help problem gamblers find mutual support among each other as well as to connect participants with organizations all over the country (and internationally).

GamTalk can be a great source of information about where to find treatment centers for problem gambling, different helplines to call, and other information about state government resources. 

State resources for problem gambling

All states have their own resources to help individuals suffering from problem gambling as well. Even though individuals suffer from problem gambling, preventing and treating problem gambling is a community-wide concern, which is why you’ll always find resources to help with problem gambling in areas where gambling takes place.

In many cases, states participate as affiliates with the National Council on Problem Gambling described above, which means you can visit the NCPG site and easily find links to state-level resources where you live. Most states have legal, state-run lotteries, and in most cases the lotteries provide information about responsible gambling and assistance finding help with problem gambling. 

You’ll find as well that states’ governments often have problem gambling resources available as part of their departments of health. The majority of states have a “Council on Problem Gambling” that can be easily found with a quick online search. E.g., in New York, look for the New York Council on Problem Gambling; in California, look for the California Council on Problem Gambling.

There are many independent organizations working within particular states offering help to problem gamblers. Usually you can talk to a counselor and even set up treatment plans without any cost at all. 

Always practice responsible gambling when you bet on sports 

It is easy sometimes to think of sports betting as different from other types of gambling, especially if you spend time reading sites like and researching your picks before making them. Unlike, say, pure gambling games like roulette or slots, you can improve your chances of winning when betting on sports by being more informed when you wager. 

Even so, sports betting is still gambling. Therefore, you need to approach it with the same caution and care you would any other type of gambling game. 

Here we provide both the latest odds and lots of data-driven advice about sports betting strategy, all of which is designed to improve the quality of your sports betting experience. Being informed as well about the importance of responsible gambling and the pitfalls problem gambling can also help ensure that your sports betting experience is positive and not detrimental to yourself or your family and friends.