Horse Racing Tips

Mark Milligan: We should all embrace Safer Gambling Week

Safer Gambling Week at Betfair

With Safer Gambling Week upon us, Mark Milligan has taken a look at the tools available to keep us all safe, while providing some of his own insights into keeping betting fun...

Safer Gambling Week is an industry-wide event that I believe we should all embrace, whether we consider ourselves 'at risk' or not.

Even the most experienced and disciplined punters are occasionally prone to what Tony Calvin described in this column last year as 'the moment' - that fleeting instance where adrenaline takes hold, with rashness and stupidity taking over.

That is something we must all guard against because the ramifications can be long-lasting and ruinous.

The effects of out-of-control gambling can not only ruin one's own life but the lives of loved ones as well.

Betting is a fantastic leisure pursuit and one I've loved since I was a teenager - but I've also seen the damage it can cause first hand if not done in a controlled and measured way.

I've seen a work colleague have to quit a job he loved because he couldn't face watching horse racing day in and day out due to the fact that gambling had taken hold of him, while a friend of my son had to bar himself from local casinos while at Uni because he'd racked up huge gambling debts before the age of 20.

If left unchecked, what starts out as a hobby and pastime can quickly become a spiralling addiction.

Fantastic tools are out there

This is why Safer Gambling Week is so important, a moment in time when we can focus on the tools that are there to help safeguard our enjoyment while seeking to pursue what can be such a rewarding and exciting hobby.

This is an area that bookmakers have invested so much time and money in over the last few years and there really are some fantastic resources out there to help us enjoy our leisure pursuit of choice, while remaining fully in control.

Deposit Limits
Loss Limits
Time Outs
Session Timers
Reality Checks
Self Exclusion
Budget Calculators
Self Assessment

All the above tools are there to protect people from harm and I urge everyone to take a look at them on the Safer Gambling area of Betfair's website, whether they consider themselves 'at risk' or not.

My own tips for keeping gambling fun

So, those are the tools available to protect us all while gambling, but I also wanted to provide some of my own tips to maximise your enjoyment of betting while remaining fully in control.

Now, some of these will seem obvious and will certainly be ones you've heard before, but it never hurts to have a refresher.

1 - Don't bet with money you need for living expenses

We're facing a cost-of-living crisis at the moment: food bills, energy prices, the cost petrol/diesel are all skyrocketing, and these things should ALWAYS be your priority. If you're lucky enough to have money left over for leisure pursuits then that is the only money you should use for gambling.

2 - Don't chase your losses

If you're having a bad day punting - and we've all been there - the temptation to try and get back what you've lost will hover like an unwelcome devil on your shoulder.

Betting - and horse racing in particular - in now virtually a 365-day a year sport. If you're having a bad day just write it off, put it down to experience and learn from it. Racing will still be there tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that.

One bad day on the horses or football or whatever doesn't have to define you and your gambling, neither does a bad week, which leads me on to my next point.

3 - If it's going badly, take a break

This is one of the most important rules I use in my betting life and one that has stood me in good stead over more than 30 years of punting.

We all have losing runs and sometimes no matter how good a punter you are and how much research you've put in, things just don't go your way and the losses start to accrue. It's at this point that betting ceases to be fun.

Take a break - my own rule is that I just attempt to get away from sport completely (often easier said than done when working in the industry). I don't watch sport, I don't focus on sport, I just completely detach from it for a period of time (sometimes a week, maybe longer).

You'll come back refreshed and with a completely new outlook.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say a few days each week away from sport/betting can do you the world of good whether things are going well or not.

It never hurts to focus on different things in life.

Watch a box set, spend time with your loved ones, go for days out - don't make betting the sole focus in your life.

4 - Keep it fun

We all aspire to make money from our betting - after all, where's the fun in gambling if it's not to make a few quid in the process?

However, don't go into it with that as your sole aim - gambling should always be a leisure pursuit at the end of which you may be rewarded with an extra few quid in your pocket.

Enjoy researching the races or the football stats, enjoy pitting your wits against the bookmakers and seeing if you come out on top - that, for me, is one of the biggest upsides in punting.

Enjoy the race or the match you've had a bet on knowing full well that if you lose a few quid you can still afford to put food on the table and keep your house warm throughout the winter.

If it ceases to become an enjoyable, fun way of spending your leisure pounds, then that's the time to make use of the tools that are available to all.

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