Responsible Gambling Policy

Responsible Gambling Policy

Recently approved Portuguese legislation allows operation and practice of online gambling and betting activities, as long as the necessary legal framework and protection measures are applied to both operators and gamblers.

The availability of online gambling and betting allows easy and almost universal access to games of chance through remote and interactive tools. This forces us to adopt new approaches to the potential impact of gambling addiction phenomena. It also reinforces the need to structure a responsible gambling policy and carry out preventive action.

Our concern is also focused on the younger population — since the Internet is a widely used tool among young people, they can easily develop gambling-related addictions. Minors are a particular cause of concern and must be protected through a wide range of information and awareness-building policies, in order to prevent the dangers of gambling.

All measures that have been designed and developed for good practices of responsible gambling in territorial concession operations (such as casinos and bingo halls) must now be analysed and adapted to this new reality.

The parameters for the construction of these policies have been defined in the Online Gambling Legal Regime (OLR).

Firstly, all online gambling operators are required to elaborate a plan and adopt measures that guarantee responsible gambling practices and provide gamblers with the information that promotes moderate, non-compulsive and responsible gambling. The purpose is to mitigate the negative effects that online gambling can have on vulnerable people and protect players in general.

These measures must also comply with the following objectives:

  • Awareness raised through the dissemination of messages that warn about of the dangers of online gambling, so that gamblers may play in a consciously and rationally.
  • Prevention measures carried out by gambling operators, such as the adoption of moderate, non compulsive and responsible gambling policies that include protection of vulnerable people and at-risk groups; this also includes the availability of information regarding the banning of minors from online games of chance and betting activities — this information must be permanently displayed in a manner appropriate to the nature and promotional tools used for each game or bet.
  • Support to vulnerable people through the creation of support mechanisms (including the availability of self-exclusion mechanisms) and a network of integrated treatment centres.

Plans designed by operators and gambling-related entities must include the following components:

  • A general information policy regarding the operator, its offer of online games of chance and betting activities, and how these are made available to players;
  • A policy of communication and information for gamblers regarding responsible gambling behaviour and the dangers of gambling addiction. The operator's website  must include a permanent message regarding responsible gambling;
  • The operator must develop a set of measures that allow both the protection of minors, handicapped people and any who have voluntarily self-excluded from gambling. These measures must also ensure that such people are not able to access online games of chance and betting;
  • The operator's website must have tools that allow gamblers to set limits to both the amounts allowed for betting and the amounts deposited into the gambling account;
  • Self-exclusion tools and instructions to access them must be clearly accessible and available on the website;
  • Tools that allow the gambler to make complaints, as well as instructions to access and use them, must also be clearly available on the operator's website;
  • Games of chance or bets must have time limits whenever these are applicable.

The Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service's website also provides a self-exclusion tool that is easily accessible to gamblers. This request for self-exclusion is automatically transmitted to all operators.

We are aware that there is still a great lack of information regarding the true extent of gambling addiction and which adequate steps must be taken to approach, prevent and treat this problem. There is a need for scientific studies and a deeper understanding of this phenomenon, its causes and consequences.

The human dimension and economical and social relevance of this issue demands scientific studies and a proper diagnosis. This requires a combined effort involving everyone concerned: the Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service, operators, academics and scientists, the media, prevention and treatment technical staff and the general public.

Therefore, it is up to the Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service to collaborate with the competent authorities and promote studies that identify addictive behaviors and propose the adoption of preventive and deterrent measures.

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