Ten ways to identify problem gambling

Ten ways to identify problem gambling

Posted on February 26, 2024 by in Gambling
Ten ways to identify problem gambling

Problem gambling, also referred to as gambling addiction or compulsive gambling, is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences for the individual and their loved ones. Unlike casual gambling, problem gambling is not just about the financial loss. It can lead to a range of harmful outcomes, including mental health issues, relationship troubles, and even criminal behavior. Identifying problem gambling early on can be a crucial step in seeking help and recovering from this addiction. Here are ten ways to recognize problem gambling.

1. Constant preoccupation with gambling

An individual with a gambling problem may often find their thoughts dominated by gambling activities. They may frequently recall past gambling experiences, plan future gambling ventures, or contemplate ways to secure funds for gambling. If someone seems overly preoccupied with gambling, to the detriment of other aspects of their life, this could be a clear indication of a problem.

2. Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money

Like many addictions, problem gambling often requires the person to engage in the behavior with greater intensity over time to achieve the same emotional effect. This means they might feel the need to gamble with increasingly larger amounts of money to experience the same thrill. If an individual constantly increases their bets or takes higher risks, this could be a sign of gambling addiction.

3. Unsuccessful attempts to stop or control gambling

Despite the harmful consequences, problem gamblers often find it difficult to stop or reduce their gambling activities. They may have made repeated attempts to stop or cut back without success. If an individual frequently talks about wanting to quit gambling but fails to do so, this is a strong indication of a gambling problem.

4. Restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop gambling

Just like with substance addictions, people with problem gambling can experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. These can include restlessness, irritability, or even physical discomfort. If someone reacts this way when they try to reduce or stop their gambling, this could suggest that they are dealing with a gambling addiction.

5. Gambling as a way to escape problems or feelings

Using gambling as a means to escape from problems or to relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression is a common characteristic of problem gambling. If someone turns to gambling in response to negative emotions or life situations, this could be a significant indicator of a gambling problem.

6. Chasing losses

One of the key features of problem gambling is the tendency to ‘chase losses.’ This refers to the behavior of continuing to gamble in an attempt to recover money that was lost in previous bets. This pattern often leads to even larger losses and financial crisis, as the person can become trapped in a cycle of betting more and losing more.

7. Lying about gambling behavior

Problem gamblers often feel the need to hide the extent of their gambling activities from family, friends, or professionals. They may lie about how much money they have lost, how often they gamble, or the extent of the problems caused by their gambling. If someone consistently lies about their gambling habits, this is a clear sign of problem gambling.

8. Risking significant relationships or opportunities due to gambling

Gambling problems can lead to serious consequences in a person’s personal and professional life. If someone is willing to risk important relationships, their job, or other significant opportunities due to their gambling, this is a strong sign that they have a problem with gambling.

9. Relying on others for money to solve financial problems caused by gambling

Problem gamblers often end up facing significant financial problems due to their gambling habits. They may then turn to others to help them out of their financial difficulties, which can create further tension and conflict. If an individual frequently asks for loans or financial assistance because of their gambling, this could be a sign of a gambling problem.

10. Continuation of gambling despite negative consequences

Despite suffering serious negative consequences due to their gambling – such as financial distress, relationship troubles, or mental health issues – a person with a gambling problem often continues to gamble. This inability to stop, even in the face of serious harm, is a key characteristic of problem gambling.


Understanding these signs can help identify problem gambling at an early stage. If you or someone you know exhibits several of these signs, it may be time to seek professional help. It’s important to remember that problem gambling is not a failure of will or character; it’s a serious issue that can be treated with the right support and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling, also known as gambling addiction or compulsive gambling, is an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.

Q2. What are some signs of problem gambling?

Signs include constant preoccupation with gambling, needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling, using gambling to escape problems, chasing losses, lying about gambling behavior, and risking significant relationships due to gambling.

Q3. What should I do if I suspect someone has a gambling problem?

If you suspect someone has a gambling problem, encourage them to seek help from a professional. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, as shame or judgment can often exacerbate the issue.

Q4. Is problem gambling treatable?

Yes, problem gambling is treatable. Various therapies and support groups are available to help problem gamblers and their loved ones. It’s important to remember that recovery is a process and will look different for everyone.

Q5. Can problem gambling lead to other mental health issues?

Yes, problem gambling can often co-occur with other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Therefore, it’s important to address all aspects of an individual’s mental health during treatment.

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