Online gaming for money has been an enormous success story over the last few years, with the industry continually boasting ‘recession-busting’ figures. Nonetheless, groups like Gamcare and Gambling Aware who promote responsible gaming in the UK, are busier than ever.
According to latest figures a surprising 73% of all British adults game in some fashion at least once a year, and the industry as a whole employs over 200,000 people (that’s enough to fill the Olympic Stadium twice and have some spare) and the industry is enormous, posting a turnover of £8.7bn in 2009.
Of course, these figures don’t take into account groups of people who play casino games but don’t put any money on it, like those who play free online bingo games with companies like Costa Bingo. In fact, these games are widely praised by sites like Gambling Aware because they offer the fun and experience of gaming for money, without the risk associated with gambling.
Nonetheless, companies that do offer gaming for money have consistently shown themselves (or at least the best companies have) to be very aware of the importance of looking after their customers. The GREaT Foundation, which runs Gambling Aware as well as a range of other services is only funded by voluntary contributions from the industry and in 2009/10 the industry donated an astonishing £5million to support research, education and treatment for problem gamblers. In this respect the gaming industry is unique, in as much as it’s one of the only sectors to fund research and treatment for its customers on an entirely voluntary basis.
For individual gamers, the best aspect of all of this is that there’s a well developed and solid support network out there for gamers of all sorts. Often, the community looks after itself, as fellow gamers and friends (whether in chatrooms or in the real world) are often the best placed to recognise a problem in a friend and flag it up. All of which only goes to further the social credentials of some of the big bingo sites and their counterparts in other industries.
Ultimately, people play online games because their fun, but when money is involved there’s always a bit of risk. The best advice is to play free games and just have fun, and if there are bonuses or anything that can mean you win money without risking any, even better. Still, if you do play for money, it’s worth checking out the Gambling Aware website from time to time, both to protect yourself, and the people around you.