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Tools you can use to help you control the time and money you spend gambling

There are tools provided by gambling businesses to help you to control the amount of time and money you spend gambling.

Setting limits on gaming machines 

If you are playing a gaming machine in a bookmaker’s premises, you may be able set a limit on how much, and how long, you can play for. If the feature is there, you have to choose before you start playing whether to set these limits. 

Once you reach one of these limits, you will be presented with the choice to stop playing or continue with new limits. Staff behind the counter are also alerted whenever a limit is set or reached. If you do not choose to set a limit, one will appear for every 20 minutes of play or £150 added to the machine. You can choose to set a limit at any time during play, even if you do not choose to set one at the start. 

When a limit is reached, the machine must provide a 30 second break in play before you can start playing again. This gives time for you to think about whether you want to continue.  

Similar limits are available when you play online as well.

Time outs

A time-out is a feature of online gambling that can be used if you want to be able to continue to gamble, but manage it by removing yourself from it for a short period of time. During a time-out, you can block yourself from playing for a set amount of time. 

Online gambling companies must offer this facility for the following periods:

  • 24 hours
  • one week
  • one month
  • any period that a customer might reasonably request up to a maximum of six weeks. 

Self-exclusion

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 gambling with them for a period of time. It lasts for at least six months. Self-exclusion can be used if you think you have a problem with gambling and want help to stop. 

It is up to you to stick to a self-exclusion agreement, but if you try to gamble during that time the company should make reasonable efforts to stop you. Once you have made a self-exclusion agreement, the gambling company must close your account and return any money in the account to you. It must also remove your name and details from any marketing databases it uses. 

All companies that offer gambling in premises (arcades, bookmakers, bingo and casinos) must be part of a multi-operator self-exclusion scheme. This allows you to make a single request to self-exclude from all premises offering the same type of gambling in your area, rather than needing to exclude from each individually. The gambling company can tell you how this scheme operates. 

A similar scheme for online gambling companies is being developed. We've been told by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) it will be in place by the end of 2017.