What Is Safer Gambling?

What is Safer Gambling & why is it relevant to me?

‘Safer gambling’ relates to the measures we put in place to ensure we have an enjoyable betting experience. All betting involves risk, and the care we take to judge that risk, as well as how we deal with both wins and losses – as well as the possibility of either – define all of our relationships with gambling. That's why betting safely is something for all gamblers to consider, throughout their betting lives.

As we're all taught from an early age, prevention is better than cure, and thinking carefully in advance about how much you should bet, how often, and in what circumstances, is vital to maintaining a good relationship with gambling.

Gambling: what are you getting out of it?

To many, ‘safer gambling’ might seem a contradiction in terms. Gambling is in its very essence risk-taking, and bookmakers and casinos offer plenty of opportunity for you to spend money without much to show for it. That said, gambling is far from being all about winning money – after all, it’s generally accepted that only about 2-3% of gamblers are ‘up’ in the long-term. So whilst most gamblers need to be realistic about the prospects of making profit being slim, it’s also clear there is fun to be had even if you don’t end up flush with cash.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that the excitement or challenge of placing a bet is essentially what you’re paying for, as it’s the only part of gambling that is generally within your control. Anything you do win is essentially a bonus, given it relies on wholly external factors going your way.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to win, but that the key to safer gambling is working out a safe level at which you can balance the fun element with the risk element. To do that, it’s vital to 'gamble aware' – to be observant and honest with how gambling might actually be making you and others around you feel, and how much money or time it's costing you.

What happens when we don't give those things due consideration? There's a huge variation in what problem betting can mean for different people – even those who don't spend much time or money doing it – but we've discussed some of the more common issues, here.

What are the basic things we can do to gamble more sensibly?

Whilst there’s a raft of strategies bookmakers and banks have introduced to help you do this (which you can read about here), they all boil down to self-discipline.

Lastly, whilst all gambling involves some element of risk, there are a number of things you can do to reduce or minimise that risk – for any given bet, and for your financial and mental health in the long-run. The Timeform philosophy is all about keeping the odds in your favour in the long-term, by being better-informed than the market – the philosophy behind our slogan ‘play smarter’. And there’s every reason that should extend to your betting habits as well as your selections themselves. For advice on how to take a more professional, realistic approach to your betting, read our guide here.

For more information about safer gambling, or if you're concerned about your gambling, there are plenty of online and phone services where you can get assistance. They include GamCare, BeGambleAware and Gamblers Anonymous amongst many others. The Number for the National Gambling Helpline (also operated by GamCare) is 0808 8020 133.