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One of the best ways to make sure gambling is a safe form of entertainment is to learn a few simple strategies to manage your play. It may not sound like fun to put a cap on things even before you get started, but setting a few boundaries can actually help you have a good time by removing the burden of deciding when to call it quits. 

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This website is full of reasons why gambling should be considered a form of entertainment and not a way to make money. The house always has an advantage, each game has randomness built in, many of the games are hard to master—those are just the start.

If you choose to gamble, it helps to remind yourself that it’s best viewed as a form of fun. Just like going out to a concert, or joining a softball league, there’s a price to pay for your play. Think of it as the cost of entertainment for the evening. Remembering that will help avoid disappointment if you don’t win. And remember, in the long run you probably won’t.

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Gambling, like most forms of entertainment, tend to be more fun with friends. Playing with someone else provides the bonus of having someone to keep you both accountable to your plans. The key is to let the other person know what your limits are ahead of time, and vice versa. Get on the same page and you’ll be laughing all the way from the roulette table to the buffet. Even better, introduce other activities and hobbies, so you’re not just gambling. Mixing it up will help you limit your time at the tables.

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Once you understand that gambling is a form of entertainment, it helps to decide how much you’re willing to spend on it. For example, if you go to a concert, you might be willing to pay $20 to see an artist or you might be willing to pay more if it’s someone you really like. Your budget is unique to you—it should relate to how much you can afford, how much entertainment you want to get out of the experience, and how much you’re willing to lose.

Setting a budget is actually the easy part. Sticking to it may be a bit harder. One useful strategy is to take only the cash you’re planning to spend and leave your credit cards at home. 

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Sometimes getting up from the table or slot machine is not easy to do. One of the ways to help you stick to your budget is to set a time limit for how long you’re planning to gamble. How do you know when to cash in your chips? 

First, remember the concept of randomness. Each hand or spin is independent and unpredictable, so if you think you’re due for a win, you’re not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost a bit of money, don’t fall into the mindset that you have to win it back. You’re no more likely to start winning after two hours than you were when you started.

Instead, set a timer on your watch or smartphone for the amount of time you plan to play, and when the timer goes off, finish your hand and leave. Or, better yet, ask a friend or family member to give you a call at a certain time as a reminder. 

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If you find it hard to set and stick to any of the limits described above, consider a chat with one of the GameSense Advisors at the GameSense Info Centers* or look into our support services and find help.