Responsible Gambling in Illinois
Alongside traditional forms of wagering like betting on horseracing or buying lottery tickets, a spike in advertising and expansion of online sports betting has made gambling more visible in Illinois now than ever before.
Today, Illinois residents and tourists alike have access to a vast range of regulated, legal, and fair gambling options. From sports betting to poker to casinos – be they online or land-based, gambling fans can bet on an unprecedented number of games and betting markets anytime and anywhere.
While the majority of Illinoisans gamble responsibly, for some who do so regularly, gambling can turn into a problem. This can be exacerbated by gambling opportunities becoming more visible in our everyday lives as new casinos and sportsbooks are launched.
Your wellbeing as a casino gambler, poker player, or sports bettor should take precedence over everything else because if gambling isn’t safe, it isn’t fun. Thankfully, state leaders, regulatory bodies, casino operators, and other stakeholders have made available a plethora of tools and resources for responsible gambling in Illinois.
This page will cover everything you should know about responsible gambling in Illinois – from how to spot early signs of problem gambling to handy tools like self-exclusion platforms.
Problem Gambling vs Responsible Gambling in Illinois
Illinoisans gamble for various reasons – some for the thrill of the win, some for entertainment, and some for the social element. Whatever your reason for betting, it is essential to stay on top of your wagering activity and gamble responsibly.
Unfortunately, the number of self-reported problem gamblers in Illinois has more than doubled since Gov. JB Pritzker approved extensive gambling expansion in 2019.
Conservative estimates show that problem gamblers account for between 2 and 5 percent of the general population, which would translate to roughly 636,000 people across the Prairie State, including around 137,000 in the Chicago area alone.
And with more people working from home amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, that figure could be much higher. Furthermore, experts believe that we shall continue to see problem gambling rise in Illinois due to increased sports betting activity across the state.
As online sports betting and casino gambling gain pace in the state, the push for responsible gambling in Illinois has never been more crucial. But the first step is being able to recognize the early signs of gambling disorder or addiction.
What Does Responsible Gambling Look Like?
What makes a person a responsible gambler (as opposed to a problem gambler)? Again, everyone engages in gambling for a reason. Perhaps you are after the fun or want to feel that you’re backing your favorite team.
From backing your home team to win the league or a two-leg bet on July 4th, most people enjoy a wager or two without going haywire. Responsible gambling isn’t just a fun thing to do; it’s also a mindset and an attitude.
That being said, here’s what responsible gambling in Illinois looks like:
Having a realistic expectation of your odds of losing and winning: In other words, responsible gambling in Illinois is all about knowing and accepting your chances of landing a win or flopping.
Setting a strict gambling budget: Responsible gamblers not only set a spending limit but also adhere to it. Whether you’re betting on sports, wagering on horse races, or gambling at an online casino, you should stop and quit when your bankroll is exhausted.
Seeing gambling for what it is: Responsible gamblers don’t think of betting as a way of generating profits. They know gambling is rarely a career path and that the house always has the edge over the gambler. As such, they don’t see gambling as a source of income.
Never gambling while drunk, intoxicated or under the influence: This is the cardinal rule of responsible gambling in Illinois and everywhere, for that matter. Intoxicants like marijuana and alcohol can cloud your rational thinking and quickly lead to bad gambling decisions.
Never chasing losses: All responsible gamblers know that chasing losses can lead one down the rabbit hole of problem gambling. After all, this could lead to more and bigger losses, meaning you are digging deeper and deeper into a financial crisis.
Not letting gambling take over your life: It’s not enough to see gambling as a form of entertainment. Responsible gamblers don’t let it eat into their relationship or work time.
Taking regular breaks: Most problem gamblers often lose track of time because they tend to gamble on a loop. On the other hand, responsible gamblers take frequent breaks, helping them gain perspective on how much they’re spending on gambling.
Not gambling out of emotion: Smart gamblers stay away from gambling when they are stressed, upset, or angry. That is because good decisions are tough to make when you are emotionally spent or not feeling yourself.
Responsible gambling is all about taking complete control of your gambling activities. Responsible gamblers are always in control of their gambling’s time, monetary, and emotional spending. You should never gamble more than you can afford to lose, rain or sunshine!
What are the Signs of Problem Gambling?
Gambling disorder, also known as problem gambling, occurs when gambling turns into an addiction rather than a source of fun and entertainment. When gambling stops being fun and starts consuming your life, that’s when it becomes irresponsible.
Gambling disorder in and of itself is a mental health condition in which someone bets or gambles uncontrollably. Rather than being a pastime, gambling becomes a source of “high” that the person chases with every win.
Problem gambling doesn’t just magic up from nowhere. For most problem gamblers, gambling starts as something fun but then becomes a habit. When that happens, the reasons you started gambling go right out of the window, and the pattern goes on and on.
Betting because you’re confident that you will win or because you want to win could be some of the dead giveaways. It all starts when you stop treating gambling for what it is — a form of entertainment. You should treat it as a source of fun, much akin to going out for drinks with friends, watching a movie, or playing a round of golf with your buddies.
It is worth remembering that gambling is a for-profit enterprise, and gambling operators are always looking out for their best interests. That is why it pays to detect and catch problem gambling before it turns into a full-blown addiction.
Here are some telltale signs of a vulnerable problem gambler:
Using gambling as an escape – Responsible gamblers place a bet or two to be social, enjoy the excitement, or for the thrill of winning. However, some problem gamblers use gambling as a way of zoning out or escaping from their problems. For instance, a withdrawn and lonely person may see betting as a safer way of escaping their loneliness.
Ruined finances – Problem gamblers don’t know when to say quit, often gambling more money than they can afford. You’ll find that they gamble away their savings, rent money, and other critical expenses. Most of them max out their credit cards, chasing the gambling high.
Chasing gambling losses – Responsible gamblers understand the risk associated with gambling, and they are willing to cut their losses when lady luck doesn’t favor them. On the flip side, gambling addicts spend everything at their disposal to chase their losses.
Borrowing money out of character – The majority of problem gamblers won’t rest until they find money to finance their next gambling activity. They would go to great lengths to get the funds, including borrowing money from friends, coworkers, and sometimes casino employees. Some of them even end up taking money from loan sharks.
Lingers around the gambling floor – You’ll find gambling addicts loitering around sportsbooks, casinos, and race tracks even when they exhaust their bankroll.
Keeping their gambling a secret – Problem gamblers would go above and beyond to hide their questionable gambling activities (aka massive losses) from their friends and family.
Anxiety and depression – If your gambling causes you to experience depression, anxiety, stress, and other mood/emotional problems, then you may be facing problem gambling.
Neglecting other everyday responsibilities – If gambling gets in the way of your work and commitment to your family & friends, you need to rethink your betting activities. You could be suffering from problem gambling.
Effects on health and personal hygiene – Are your gambling habits affecting your health, wellbeing, and personal hygiene? It’s high time you seek help for the gambling disorder.
Concerns with gambling behavior – Are you ashamed of your gambling activities? Do you think your gambling is out of control?
Selling personal belongings – A problem gambler may sell their electronics and other valuables to pony up gambling cash.
Problem gambling is often characterized by being unwilling or unable to stick to known responsible gambling practices and behaviors. The disorder shows up in many different ways and is often reflected by changes in behavior, lifestyle, and emotions.
If left unchecked, gambling disorder can take a severe toll on the gambler’s relationships, family ties, work, and overall health. It can wreak havoc on your finances, of course.
If you fit any or all of the signs mentioned above, you should consider seeking help for gambling addiction. Lucky for you, there are numerous resources for responsible gambling in Illinois out there.
Tools and Resources for Responsible Gambling in Illinois
Tools Offered by Gaming Operators
Great casinos and sportsbooks value the safety and wellbeing of their customers. Most of them have put in place multiple responsible gambling tools to support their customers and help them gamble within their means.
These resources are designed to create a fun, ethical, and safe gambling environment. From self-exclusion programs to deposit limits, here are nifty tools that casino and sportsbook operators use to promote responsible gambling in Illinois:
Loss and Profit Calculators
The facts can hit hard when it comes to gambling, especially if you’re struggling with a persistent losing streak. Loss/Profit calculators are tools designed primarily to tell you how much you’ve lost or won over a given period of time. Such tools make it easier for players to set and stick to their gambling spending, plus it can come in particularly handy when you want to set your budget for the next month, week, or day.
Self-exclusion is an excellent tool if you find yourself unable to stay away from gambling platforms, and that makes it one of the best resources for problem gamblers who want to put a preventive barrier around themselves.
Do you want to stop gambling for a while or completely? No problem; casinos and sportsbooks provide self-exclusion as a tool for responsible gambling in Illinois. Typically, you can block your gaming account for between 6 months and five years or forever.
You can also self-exclude from any and all forms of gambling across that state using the Illinois Gaming Board self-exclusion program (more ahead on this).
It is easy to lose track of time when you are gambling non-stop. Time trackers are safe gambling tools that remind you of how long you have been playing. You can set the tool to remind you to log off after 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, or more.
The best way to stay on top of your gambling spending is to set deposit limits. Accordingly, casinos and sportsbooks provide tools that let you set a monthly, weekly, or even daily deposit limit. With this tool, you will enjoy the thrill and excitement that comes with gambling without breaking the bank.
Problem Gambling Support
If you want to talk to someone about problem gambling or are worried about your gambling activities, most Illinois operators have trained personnel to who you can chat or speak. Usually, you can contact them via live chat or phone number provided by the casino or sportsbook operator.
In addition to that, you will find a number of external tools for responsible gambling in Illinois, such as online help guides, forums, helplines, and self-exclusion software.
State Resources for Responsible Gambling in Illinois
Illinois Problem Gambling Registry
Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) established the Problem Gambling Registry in Feb. 2018. It is a highly confidential, discreet, and voluntary program for all forms of gambling, including:
- Retail sportsbooks
- Online sportsbooks and racebooks
- Video Lottery Terminals
- Sports wagering kiosks
- Off-track betting sites
You can enrol or remove yourself from the registry at any time, no questions asked.
Both Illinois residents and non-residents can enroll in the registry
As a member of the registry, you will receive info on problem gambling in your inbox, including treatment and prevention resources available in the Prairie State.
For more information about the Problem Gambling Registry, you can call the IGB at (312) 814-8832 (if you are a non-resident) or 1-877-968-7848 (1-877-YOU-QUIT; for residents)
The Illinois Statewide Casino Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program (SEP) for Problem Gamblers is another excellent tool for promoting responsible gambling in Illinois. The IGB established it in mid-2002 to provide a way for problem gamblers to self-exclude themselves from all casinos and sportsbooks throughout the state.
DHS Problem Gambling Services
Through the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (IDHS/SUPR), the state Department of Human Services has come up with a number of tools and resources for problem gamblers in Illinois. These include
- Site www.WeKnowTheFeeling.org: Offers advice, support, and help for problem gamblers
- Helpline 1-800-GAMBLER: Open to all problem gamblers and their loved ones
- Text Service: You can text ILGAMB to 53342 to receive help, support, and advice about problem gambling
All of these tools and resources are open 24/7.
ILLINOIS COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING
Location: 217 Winston Ave, Bartonville, IL 61607
Self-Assessment Tools for Problem Gambling in Illinois
If you’re worried about your gambling habits, behavior, or activities, you can take an online self-screening test to determine if you’re at an increased risk for gambling problems.
National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG) Screen Tool is the gold standard for assessing one’s problem gambling status. The NCPG provide three highly-regarded problem gambling screening tools:
- a) NORC Diagnostic Screen for Problem Gambling – This is a simple, 10-question self-assessment test that helps you gauge your gambling habits
- b) DSM-5 Addictive Gambling Criteria – This self-test follows the current APA guidelines for medical diagnosis of gambling disorders.
- c) The Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) – This is a survey-type screening tool that has three items that will help you find out if you need to seek a formal evaluation of your gambling behavior.
Note that these screen tests are not designed for diagnostic purposes and shouldn’t be used in place of a one-on-one evaluation with a licensed clinical practitioner.
Self-Help Resources for Responsible Gambling in Illinois
GamTalk is one of the leading providers of responsible gaming tools and resources in the US and across. It’s free and offers a list of treatment plants, safe forums, and chat rooms. The online peer-support site is moderated, providing help and support 24/7.
This is a self-help resource for close friends, family, and spouses of the problem gamblers.
NCRG is a charity organization that focuses on funding research on gambling disorders, particularly those that affect young individuals.
The organization is all about the treatment for problem gambling rather than the victimization of problem gamblers. Interested parties can visit its website, packed with educational and resourceful videos, articles, and white papers on problem gambling.
NCPG should be your first point of call for anything and everything to do with problem gambling and responsible gambling in Illinois and across the United States. It operates call centers in 28 locations with referrals for US Virgin Island, Canada, and all 50 US states.
- Live chat: ncpgambling.org/chat
- Text/ Call: 1-800-522-4700
Gambler’s Anonymous is a congregation of problem gamblers, former compulsive gamblers, and their loved ones. It encourages members to share their hope, strength, and experiences through frequent, anonymous meetings.
- Chicago Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
- Peoria Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
- Silvis Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)