Responsible gambling is an approach to wagering activities by government regulatory agencies and gaming operators that promotes a safe gaming environment and strives to minimize the potential negative impacts gaming may have on society. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and all the companies participating in gaming industry are the custodians of the social responsibility initiatives.
The goal of responsible gambling is to protect players and keep the gaming experience fun. The practice applies to all types of gambling, including casinos, sportsbooks, poker rooms, lotteries, and daily fantasy sports. As a significant amount of activity occurs online, operators have developed specific tools to ensure the safety of their customers that gamble on the internet.
Under Pennsylvania law, the minimum age to play in a land-based or online casino is 21. This limit applies to many other online gambling products too. However, some, such as daily fantasy sports and the lottery, are for those 18 and above.
These limits are designed to protect minors, as gambling is an activity that requires mature decision-making, such as entering a contract, which is only allowed when a person has reached the age of majority.
Online gambling sites protect minors by including age verification checks in their procedures. It typically includes the need to supply part of a social security number alongside other details. This information allows the operator to establish the identity of a customer. It is reinforced with another verification step before depositing, which involves uploading a copy of your photographic ID.
A tool that some operators use to encourage responsible gaming is the user limits. It gives players control over how they use a betting site or casino. There are many types of limits that can be accessed through your account.
Examples of limits include setting a maximum number of games you can play, the amount you can lose in a day or a login session, and the time that you can spend playing at the site. There are also user limits for deposit amounts. This tool helps you stick to a budget when gambling, as you cannot deposit more than your maximum, which can prevent people from experiencing financial difficulties due to gambling.
A crucial element of responsible gambling in PA is to have fun, but also to know when to stop. Tools that can help this include timeout and reality check options. Timeouts might lock a person out of their account after a certain amount of time playing or could stop them from logging in more than a set number of times each day, week, or month.
Taking breaks is essential for clear thinking and can prevent harmful behavior. Reality checks are an essential measure as they give players an idea of how long they have been gambling or how much they have spent. It is easy to get caught up in the moment, but these notifications remind players of time passing and keep them aware of their budget.
When gambling becomes a problem, or if you feel it will soon become one, then you can take a more serious approach known as self-exclusion. Unlike user limits or timeouts, this measure prevents you from accessing an online gambling site altogether.
The PGCB has a service where players can request self-exclusion from casinos, interactive gambling sites, fantasy contests, and video gaming terminals. By submitting an application, you can block your access to those gambling activities for one year, five years, or for life. You won’t be able to participate in offers or place bets, and marketing materials will not be sent to you.
You can also access account suspension and self-exclusion directly through an operator’s site. You continue to have access to the account and can make withdrawals but will not be able to place bets or play games.
In order to operate legally, online gambling sites in Pennsylvania need to ensure that players are within the Keystone State when depositing and playing.
To ensure that everyone playing at the site is legally entitled to do so, operators use geolocation software. It is embedded in websites or accompanies desktop clients and mobile apps. Before you can deposit, place a bet, play a game, or participate in a tournament, the application uses GPS to determine if you are within the state boundaries, and if you are, it grants you access.
The gambling revenue collected by the tax authorities in PA is used to support responsible gaming and goes toward other community benefits. Some of the funds are invested in advice programs and helplines for gambling addictions, including those run by the PGCB. They provide a physical and digital presence for those seeking help with gambling problems.
Tax revenue is also distributed to the county authorities where land-based casinos operate. Pennsylvania taxpayers benefit as a large portion of the revenue is used to reduce the property tax bill for landowners. Contributions are also made to schools, law enforcement, tourism, and economic growth projects.
Regulators work with operators and software developers to ensure that the games on their sites are fair. Measures taken include testing different titles to see that the outcome is not rigged in favor of the casino. They also look for factors like random number generators (RNGs), which prevent results from being predictable.
Integrity also applies to policies and procedures, including terms and conditions. For most sites, that usually means wagering requirements and fair access to bonuses, promotions, and rewards. Not only should they be accessible, but the information must be made available in clear language.
What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling refers to when betting online or in a land-based establishment is no longer fun or casual. It means that the behavior of the player could cause them difficulties, either in their personal, work, or financial lives.
Gambling can be harmful when it causes stress and anxiety. You could become irritable or distressed due to your losses, which will have an impact on your emotional health and personal relationships. Losing sleep because you stay up late placing bets could affect your work. Another sign of an issue is if you wager money that you do not have or that causes you difficulties when paying bills.
When you recognize that you have a problem, you can find support for gambling addiction in Pennsylvania. One of the main tools for help at this stage is self-exclusion, which prevents you from accessing online and land-based sites, such as casinos.
You can find out more about problem gambling and help in Pennsylvania through the PGCB website and in the resources listed below.
Help Available in Pennsylvania
As well as finding information here, you can get access to tools through individual operator sites. There are also ways to receive help from independent bodies, including the PGCB. You can use this comprehensive list of websites and numbers to call in PA to find support.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
The state regulator for gambling has a dedicated responsible play page, which has support information, options to self-exclude and gives you access to the following advice and counseling services:
24-hour hotline: 1-800-GAMBLER
Online chat is also available here
Alternatively, you can text +1-800-522-4700.
National Council on Problem Gambling PA Division
The National Council on Problem Gambling provides information, resources, self-help, treatment, counseling, and access to support groups in Pennsylvania.
You can speak to someone through these three options:
- National helpline: 1-800-522-4700
- Online chat: here
- Text: +1-800-522-4700
Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania
This non-profit organization educates and provides information about problem gambling within the state. It also facilitates referrals to appropriate programs and provides listings of support meetings.
You have the opportunity to communicate:
- By chat: here
- By text: +1-800-522-4700
This international organization of Gamblers Anonymous has a branch in Pennsylvania. It provides information, hosts support meetings and runs a hotline.
Contact them on the following numbers:
- Main hotline Number: 718-352-1671
- Southeast PA: 888-230-1123
How does an online casino check I am eligible to play?
There are several ways that an online casino checks your eligibility to play. When you register, they will ask you to enter your date of birth, to confirm you are 21 or over, and to enter the last four digits of your social security number. They will use these details with your name and address to confirm your identity. Before you despot, you will be asked to upload some photographic identification, which will also help to confirm your age.
The other factor that makes you eligible to play at an online casino is if you are located in the state. Geolocation software will determine whether you are in Pennsylvania before you can play a game.
Can I take a Timeout whilst gambling in PA?
Yes. Most operators give customers control over their accounts. One of the tools you can access is the timeout feature, which allows you to restrict your access to the site for a period of time. It could be triggered after playing for a few hours, after spending a certain amount, logging in a number of times, or set at intervals.
Can I set a deposit limit when gambling online in PA?
Yes. A deposit limit is one of many user tools that gambling sites make available to players. It is a way to prevent yourself from going over budget, as spending more money than you have is a harmful aspect of problem gambling. With a deposit limit, you can set a prearranged amount, which means you cannot add more in a specific timeframe.
Can I play from somewhere outside of PA?
No. In order to protect you, you must be within the operator’s jurisdiction to play. That means you need to be in the state of Pennsylvania so that rules and protective measures can be applied to you. Geolocation applications determine if you are in PA and then grant you access accordingly.
How does the state of PA spend revenue made by gambling?
The tax on gambling revenue in Pennsylvania is one of the highest. That means millions of dollars of tax funds are brought in each year. The state uses these to benefit the community. For example, some of the revenue goes to property tax relief funds, and another portion goes to the Commonwealth Finance Agency, which gives out grants to counties.
Tax revenue is also directed at responsible gaming. It funds organizations and supports programs. Other community benefits include money towards schools, law enforcement, and economic growth and tourism projects.
Can I set a limit on the number of games I play online in PA?
Yes. Another kind of user limit provided by online gambling sites is to restrict the number of games you can play. Through your account, you can access settings where you determine the amount of time you would like to play for or the number of games you can play in a particular session, day, week, or month. Once you reach your limit, you cannot play again until a new period starts.
How can I be sure the games are not rigged?
State regulars test games and audit sites to ensure they are not rigged. In the Keystone State, this task is carried out by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board or PGCB. They test different titles, check to see if random number generators are used, and only grant licenses to operators that have fair games, bonuses, and other policies.
What is self-exclusion?
Self-exclusion is a type of gambling help in Pennsylvania. Only an individual can exclude themselves from gambling sites. Once you fill out the application, you will be prevented from participating in any gambling activity at specific sites for a period of time. You can choose between a lifetime exclusion, five years, or one year.
How to self exclude in PA?
Operators and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board offer a service to put yourself on the self-exclusion list. You can choose the type of activity, the duration of the exclusion, and then fill out an online application form or visit the PGCB office. You will need to supply your personal details, a physical description, and a copy of your photographic ID.