As more offline and online gambling options become regulated in New York, the topic of responsible gambling is attracting increasing attention.

You may have heard the term, but what exactly is responsible gambling, and what does it mean for New Yorkers?

What is responsible gambling?

Players who gamble responsibly are aware of the risks involved. They gamble while playing for entertainment and do so within their limits.

Responsible gambling behavior does not cause problems that extend beyond the gaming venue. Losses ideally do not cause financial problems, and wins are considered a bonus. Typically, people who experience gambling problems or gambling addiction do not play responsibly.

Gambling providers use responsible gambling guidelines and criteria to offer fair, safe and ethical gaming services to players.

Responsible gambling guidelines may include:

  • Restricting underage gambling in accordance with local laws.
  • Providing a safe and fair gambling environment.
  • Adhering to ethical marketing practices that don’t target at-risk players.
  • Educating customers about responsible gambling.
  • Training staff on responsible gambling and how to recognize problem gambling.
  • Providing resources for problem gamblers.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling can range from risky or compulsive gambling behaviors that cause minor disruptions in a person’s personal or professional life to full-blown gambling addiction, which can result in severe consequences like divorce or losing a house or job.

People who suffer from gambling addiction may display patterns and behaviors similar to those suffering from alcohol or drug addiction.

Problem gambling symptoms

Gambling addiction can be particularly challenging to recognize because there are typically no physical signs of a problem, unlike with alcohol or drug addiction. Instead, symptoms often manifest themselves in a player’s behavior or financial situation.

The typical symptoms of problem gambling behavior include:

  • Hiding gambling activity from friends, family or coworkers.
  • Gambling to try to win back losses (chasing losses).
  • Borrowing money to gamble.
  • Selling possessions to get gambling money.
  • Failed attempts at limiting or quitting gambling activities.
  • Being dishonest about gambling losses.
  • Gambling as an escape.
  • Gambling as an attempt to solve financial problems.
  • Irritability or mood swings when not gambling.
  • Betting larger amounts and betting more often to get a rush.
  • Feeling remorse after gambling.
  • Escaping work or going to school to gamble.
  • Frequently feeling an “itch” to gamble.
  • General preoccupation with gambling.

Responsible gambling and you

Below is a list of resources available in New York that you can use to educate yourself about responsible gambling further. Many of these resources also provide support and treatment options for people who believe they may have a gambling problem.

For those concerned about their own or someone’s gambling behavior, recognizing a problem is the first step.

For some people, limiting gambling behavior by sticking to bankroll limits or taking advantage of online gambling management tools may be enough. Other people may need to take additional steps by seeking support and treatment. New York also offers a self-exclusion program that enables players to opt out of gambling activities.

Responsible gambling in New York state

New York state provides a variety of responsible gambling resources, including online education, telephone hotlines, support groups, treatment programs and voluntary self-exclusion options.

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) is a statewide department provides services to help combat and treat problem gambling in New York by providing educational information on the OASAS website, helplines, outpatient treatment programs and gambling addiction treatment inpatient centers.

Telephone hotlines and counseling

Counselors are available 24/7 to assist New Yorkers who call 877-8-HOPENY or via text at HOPENY (467369).

OASAS hotline resources are free of charge. Callers may also be referred to the closest OASAS outpatient treatment location or local Gamblers Anonymous support groups.

OASAS treatment centers

Treatment for problem gambling is available through 20 gambling-specific outpatient treatment programs and six inpatient programs at addiction treatment centers.

OASAS is also partnered with the Queens Center for Excellence that works with 13 private practices in Queens County to provide education and treatment for gambling issues.

New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG): NYCPG is a nonprofit organization that helps to increase public awareness around problem gambling and advocates for treatment and support options for problem gamblers.

Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRCs): NYCPG programs provide assessment and treatment services to problem gamblers. PGRCs also offer education and training services for community members and gaming company employees.

NYCPG online resources

  • KnowtheOdds.org: This NYCP site provides helpful infographics, e-books and video resources about gambling issues, and the site’s blog offers topical articles about gambling issues and addictions. The website also provides a list of treatment programs and resources by county, including service details and contact information.
  • DontBetYet.com: This NYCPG site offers creative activities and resources geared toward teaching children about problem gambling and how to say no to gambling.
  • YouthDecideNY.org: This NYCPG site provides resources for community members, parents and youth to educate them about responsible gambling decisions.

Voluntary self-exclusion in New York state

New York offers a voluntary self-exclusion program that enables players to opt out of all state licensed gambling activities (online or offline) for one year, three years, five years or a lifetime.

Friends or family members cannot make this request; only an individual can exclude themselves with this program.

The statewide self-exclusion option bars players from horse racing, off-track betting, video lottery gaming, land-based commercial casinos and interactive daily fantasy sports (DFS).

However, the self-exclusion program does not extend to casinos operated by Indian reservations in the state.

How to self-exclude from gambling in New York

To trigger a voluntary self-exclusion through the state:

  • Complete a self-exclusion form and have it notarized. The form must be notarized and submitted with a photo to be valid.
  • Submit the form using one of these three options:
    1. Mail it to the New York State Gambling Commission at this mailing address.
    2. Mail it to one of the state-licensed gambling facilities using the mailing addresses provided in the responsible gambling sections of each casino’s website.
    3. Submit it in person at a licensed gambling facility, typically at the security office.

The player information is shared with land-based betting locations and online DFS providers statewide so players who self-exclude can be identified and blocked if they attempt to play within their chosen exclusion period.

Playing privileges are automatically reinstated at the end of the selected self-exclusion term, except in the case of lifetime self-exclusions.

Location-specific self-exclusion

In addition to the statewide self-exclusion program, some licensed gambling locations like Nassau OTB offer a voluntary self-exclusion program for that gambling venue only. People who voluntary self-exclude with Nassau OTB are barred from all Nassau OTB locations and cannot own a Nassau OTB wagering account.

Unlike with statewide self-exclusion, it is possible to reinstate gambling privileges at Nassau OTB any time by submitting a reinstatement form. However, there is a seven-day waiting period after Nassau OTB receives the form.

Responsible gambling at New York’s land-based gambling facilities

The licensed commercial casinos in Upstate New York and other state-licensed gambling facilities, including horse racetracks and OTB venues, provide various services to help educate people about responsible gambling and provide support services to problem gamblers.

New York’s casinos promote that they take responsible gambling seriously and train their staff members to identify and address risky and problem gambling behavior.

Details and resources are available on each casino’s website as well as in person at the gambling facilities.

Some casinos, like the del Lago Resort & Casino, provide a copy of its detailed policy and procedures regarding responsible gambling on its website, for example.

Online daily fantasy sports in New York

Online DFS is legal in New York, and many regulated DFS sites are now accessible to New Yorkers. DFS sites provide responsible gambling resources to players, including educational information as well as self-exclusion and self-limitation options.

DFS self-limiting options

Those who don’t want to completely self-exclude from playing can use self-limitation options to proactively limit their deposit amounts, number of contest entries and contest entry fees to help stay within their allocated gaming budget. Once self-limiting options are in place, it is not possible to change them until the end of the selected timeframe.

Some daily fantasy sports sites in New York state, including FanDuel, also offer the option for third parties, as a spouse, to request imposing playing limits if the person is legally, or partially financially, responsible for a player’s debts.

Youth and parental controls

DFS sites verify players’ ages to help combat underage gambling.

However, minors may be able to access DFS accounts that belong to their parents or other family members. Most DFS sites advise parents not to let their children engage in DFS activities and to avoid leaving computers with DFS account access unattended.

Apps like Net Nanny and Cybersitter can help parents ensure that their children can’t access DFS and other gambling-related sites by blocking access to the content.

OASAS issues and limitations in New York state

In February 2019, the New York state comptroller’s office released a report about an audit of the problem gambling services offered by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in the state.

Outdated problem gambling data

The key findings of the report revealed that OASAS had not conducted an assessment of problem gambling in the state, including the number of problem gamblers and their location, since 2006.

This is significant because, after 2006, four large commercial casinos opened in the state, VLTs were introduced at racetracks and other gambling facilities, and online daily fantasy sports betting was rolled out.

There have been no impact studies or resource assessments that address how more access to gambling may be affecting New York communities.

No OASAS treatment options in 40 NY counties

Only 22 of New York’s 62 counties offer OASAS gambling treatment programs, leaving a majority of 40 counties without OASAS treatment coverage.

In some areas, travel times to treatment centers can be prohibitive. Further, OASAS has not conducted an assessment of what treatment options are available outside of their system and the costs.

Next steps

The report recommended that OASAS conduct updated needs assessments and social impact studies to help ensure that gambling treatment resources are appropriately established, targeted and available to all New York residents.

OASAS officials agreed with the findings and recommendations of the report, citing a lack of funding for updated studies and associated treatment programs. You can read the full report here.

National resources for responsible gambling

In addition to New York state resources, responsible gambling resources are also available from national organizations.

  • National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG): NCPG provides free 24/7 counseling via a toll-free phone number and text at 800-522-4700 as well as via online chat at ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/chat.
  • National Center for Responsible Gambling (NCRG): NCRG funds gambling disorder research and treatment and provides associated information and resources on their website.
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA): GA provides free telephone hotline services nationwide, including New York state, at 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542). Gamblers Anonymous also hosts support meetings throughout the state, with more than 130 different meetings currently available. A convenient search engine on the GA website can be used to find meeting types, schedules and location details.
  • Gam-Anon: Gamblers Anonymous also offers Gam-Anon meetings to support friends and family of people with gambling addictions. Both Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon are 12-step, self-help programs similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Responsible gambling tips

  • Educate yourself about responsible gambling.
  • Never bet more than you can afford to lose.
  • Keep a clear head about gambling and when you are gambling.
  • View gambling as entertainment.
  • Set a bankroll budget and limits for yourself and then stick to them.
  • Learn to walk away when you are still playing within your limits.
  • Take periodic breaks from gambling to prevent any gambling patterns from turning into habits.
  • Keep track of your betting activities to understand how much time and money you spend gambling.
  • Take advantage of self-limiting functions and autoplay controls online.
  • Set reminders to help limit how long you play.
  • If you need help, ask.