One of the main arguments wielded by those trying to ban online poker is “compulsive gambling”: they claim that players who can easily access poker games from their homes and mobiles are much more likely to develop gambling problems than those who have to drive miles to their nearest casino.Most of us disagree with this, of course: while addictive gambling is a reality, land-based games and casinos are no safer than online ones in this respect.Just look at the very high-profile case of Phil Ivey, who played as a minor in Atlantic City casinos for years using a fake ID!
Online poker rooms take careful, stringent measures to prevent and curb underage gambling and excessive gambling from their users, since their business and their reputation depend on this.Party Poker is very articulate on why they care: “At Party Poker, we believe that we are only as good as our customers’ perception of us. Therefore, the highest level of integrity is the only standard by which Party Poker can operate.Being a responsible company means being an active part of a larger community: its people, its institutions, and its values.”
All respectable poker sites include responsible gambling policies, which may include a combination of the following:
– Age verification:nobody under the age of 18 may set up an account on a poker site, which is why most sites request credit card information even if no deposit is required. Besides this, no advertising is directed at minors, and many sites also suggest several ways to keep children away from online gambling.Party Poker’s suggestions include not using the “save password” option and creating separate profiles for children who share your computer.
– Deposit limits: many sites will allow you to set a cap on how much you can deposit during a set period of time. Once you set a limit, you can reduce it immediately, but you will have to contact support and wait 24 hours to increase your set limit.
– Time limit: some sites will also offer a chance to limit how much time you spend online. For example, Party Poker offers a “session time limit”, which will notify you if you reach the time limit of your choice.
– Self exclusion: if a player feels the need to “cool off” for a while, some sites will block them from using and creating new accounts for as long as the player requests.All this usually requires is an email from you requesting to be excluded for a certain period, which will not be revocable or negotiable after your request.
– Filtering and blocking: it is recommended to use a web content filter such as Net Nanny if there are children who may use your computer. And if you wish to block gambling software completely for a while, software such as GamBlock will ensure a gambling-free computer.
Even with all these safe measures in place… are people going to find a way ‘cheat the system’?Yes, but the vast majority of people that do play online, do it responsibly and with self-control.