Responsible Gambling In Minnesota

The US is experiencing an unprecedented wave of online gambling expansion. Minnesota appears poised to grab its proverbial board and surf on that wave. And that means it’s good to become familiar with available Minnesota responsible gambling resources.

State legislators are mulling over a sports betting bill, and talk of online casinos is making its way through the state as well. If current measures prove successful, Minnesota could legalize some form of online gambling — sports betting would likely be first — and launch at some point in the next year. 

For Minnesotans, this opens a whole new channel for entertainment. Gambling can be just that. However, it’s important to understand the risks attached to gambling. While many players can enjoy online betting for fun, others see it become a significant problem. Bettors who are prone to problem gambling are especially at risk when online options are in play. 

Because gambling comes with risk, responsible play is incredibly important. On this page, we will walk you through the key facets of responsible gambling: what it means, why it’s important, and the resources available to players. 

What is responsible gambling?

It’s easy to cast off responsible gambling as a buzzword without a real definition or consensus. In reality, it’s quite the contrary. Responsible gambling is an entire ethos that fuels every corner of the industry to protect players. Sports betting operators, online casino providers, land-based gambling destinations, legislators, regulators, and suppliers use responsible gambling as a template by which they offer their services. 

In essence, responsible gambling is the overarching goal to allow players to enjoy gambling with minimal risk of harm or adverse outcomes. Gambling is meant to be entertaining, and if it causes direct or indirect harm to an individual or the ones they love, then it’s not responsible. 

To be clear, the term “responsible gambling” does not apply just to players. The platforms and companies accepting bets are equally accountable (if not more so) for keeping their experiences safe and sustainable. 

While responsible gambling can feel like a broad term, it coalesces into a few critical goals:

  • Keep gambling fun and entertaining
  • Help problem gamblers find assistance and stop gambling
  • Reinforce the “only bet what you can afford to lose” mentality

Tips for gambling responsibly in Minnesota

Along those lines, there are a handful of responsible gambling tips that can help shape your time playing online casinos or betting on sports:

  • Keep careful records of your deposits, wins, and losses
  • Set limits on spend and time; stick to those limits
  • Remember, it’s OK to ask for help or seek assistance
  • Never gamble to cope with sadness, anxiety, or other emotional struggles
  • Don’t chase losses
  • Only gamble with money you can afford to lose (i.e., don’t gamble with money you need for something else)

Again, players are not solely responsible for keeping their play safe. Operators should do the same, and there are a few strategies that can encourage responsible gambling:

  • Connect players to resources and therapy for problem gambling assistance
  • Train staff to understand problem gambling and prevent it
  • Audit marketing materials with negatively associated terms like “degenerate”
  • Enforce underage gambling restrictions
  • Allow self-exclusion as an operator, even if it’s also available from the state government

What is problem gambling?

Think of “problem gambling” as the other side of the responsible gambling coin. Responsible gambling is what the industry should encourage, while problem gambling should be avoided. 

It can be exceedingly difficult to tell if you or someone you know has a problem with gambling. Unlike other “vices” such as nicotine addiction or alcoholism, gambling doesn’t involve consuming a substance. Instead, gambling is a process addiction, often exacerbated by existing habits with a mobile device. This results in a stigma around it, and those with issues rarely know they can seek help without judgment. 

Further, problem gambling can have side effects ranging from the very small to the highly noticeable. When left unchecked or untreated, problem gambling (or compulsive gambling) can lead to significant harm financially, emotionally, and physically. As such, it’s important to know the signs of problem gambling and identify them. Such signs include:

  • Failure to pay bills or take care of oneself (eating, hygiene, etc.)
  • Heightened anxiety or depression when not gambling
  • Becoming defensive when asked about gambling
  • Frequent mood swings, especially related to gambling outcomes
  • Lying about gambling habits, including faking wins or lessening losses
  • Missing work or school
  • Frequent irritability when not gambling
  • Chasing losses or trying to recoup a lost be
  • Selling possessions or asking loved ones for money to gamble

Keep in mind that these are just some signs of problem gambling. There can be many more. Additionally, the degree or severity of the symptoms can vary. It’s important to check in with yourself often to ensure you aren’t slipping into problematic behavior. 

Minnesota responsible gambling resources

Minnesota has many resources in place to assist problem gamblers and promote responsible play. 

  • Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services Problem Gambling Hub
  • State-Approved Gambling Treatment Providers
  • Minnesota Lottery Problem Gambling Help Page

Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling

The MNAPG is a central organization dedicated to educating Minnesotans on the risks of gambling. It has many programs and resources to accomplish this goal. The MNAPG homepage has links and contact information for the 24/7 state helpline as well. 

The MNAPG is shifting the conversation from “responsible gambling” to “healthy play” in response to the increasing need for operators to engage in the practice and protect players.

Peruse the MNAPG website for heaps of resources about responsible gambling, including a page for “concerned others” who want to offer help to a friend or loved one struggling with problematic gambling behaviors.  

Minnesota Department of Human Services

The Minnesota Department of Human Services offers a robust array of problem gambling resources and responsible gambling information. The organization runs a 24/7 hotline that connects problem gamblers to resources and information. The Minnesota DHS also pays for outpatient problem gambling treatment for qualifying residents. 

Minnesota’s problem gambling helpline is available via three channels:

  • Phone: 1-800-333-HOPE
  • Text HOPE to 53342
  • GatGamblingHelp.com

You can also enroll in an encouragement program via text by sending “EncourageMeMN” to 53342. Enrolling will subscribe you to regular text messaging reminding you of responsible gambling tips and resources. 

The Minnesota DHS has a list of state-approved treatment providers with problem gambling expertise. 

Minnesota Lottery

The Minnesota Lottery has a page dedicated to responsible gambling with links to further help and resources. Many of the links direct you to resources we have already mentioned in this section. 

Self-exclusion in Minnesota

Individuals in Minnesota can self-exclude from gambling voluntarily. Self-exclusions can last for a fixed period — e.g., one year, five years — or a lifetime. Right now, such agreements are between the person in question and the property from which they wish to self-exclude. In most cases, such agreements prevent a self-excluded individual from setting foot on the property with the penalty of a trespassing charge. Additionally, an individual who has self-excluded and won a jackpot of $1,200 or more would not receive said jackpot. 

As it stands, this program is fairly lackluster and focused on the player rather than the property or platform. Should Minnesota legalize online gambling, we expect a formal state-sanctioned self-exclusion program with specific enforcement plans that put the onus on the operator instead of the player. 

National responsible gambling resources

Outside of Minnesota, there are plenty of national programs geared toward assisting problem gamblers and promoting responsible play. 

National Council on Problem Gambling

The NCPG focuses its efforts on curbing problem gambling nationwide. Its services and programs include a national helpline, which is available at 1-800-522-4700. The National Council On Problem Gambling website has a live chat option, too. 

We also recommend the NCPG for further reading and resources. There are many articles and seminars offered by the organization for further education and understanding. These have included sessions on the impact of problem gambling on loved ones. 

As of January 2024, the NCGP is advocating for the Gambling Addiction, Recovery, Investment, and Treatment Act, otherwise known as the GRIT Act. If passed, the Act would (among other things):

  • Set aside 50% of federal sports excise tax revenue for problem gambling support and research
  • Distribute funds to states for additional prevention and treatment programs
  • Fund research into gambling addiction through the National Institute of Drug Abuse

Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon

Gamblers Anonymous operates with a similar structure to Alcoholics Anonymous, focusing on a step-by-step help program and support from fellow members. One handy resource is the Gamblers Anonymous 20-question survey that can help people determine whether they have a problem. You can visit the Gamblers Anonymous website to find a meeting or talk to someone. 

Gamblers Anonymous runs a sibling program called Gam-Anon. Gam-Anon provides assistance to family members and friends of those who experience problem gambling. 

International Center for Responsible Gambling

The ICRG is connected with the American Gaming Association. It was previously called the National Center for Responsible Gambling before taking on the international name. The organization primarily funds research into gambling addiction. Its programs educate both the public and industry stakeholders on how to prevent and treat problem gambling. 

Playing responsibly online

As you can probably imagine, online gambling brings with it a host of additional risks. The ability to gamble or bet straight from your phone, which is likely with you for most of the day, adds a factor of risk and accessibility. 

While not everyone is at risk, those who are may have a harder time understanding the risk factors when gambling is so easily accessible via a phone, tablet, or computer. It is harder to self-regulate. It’s easier to chase losses or keep going even when you stopped having fun three bets ago. 

Gambling providers in the online space typically have responsible gambling programs and resources available from their homepage or FAQ help centers. We recommend pursuing them before you play online so you can better understand the risks. 

Play responsibly, and find help when needed

Whether you’re playing at a casino in Minnesota or gambling online in a legal state, we encourage you to play responsibly and keep all the warning signs of problem gambling in mind. 

Most people are able to gamble for fun without the behavior becoming problematic. However, it’s crucial to understand when you cross the threshold into potentially problematic habits. Recognize the warning signs and keep careful tabs on your emotions to keep your play healthy and sustainable. 

If you think you need help, get in touch with one of the many organizations we’ve listed on this page. And remember, it’s OK to talk to a loved one and ask for help. 

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