Problem Gambling | The Basics of What You Need To Know


There is so much information about problem gambling. Sometimes, it can be confusing to cut through all the articles, research, social media posts and any other information. Sometimes, it’s important just to go back to basics.

What is gambling?

Gambling is to risk something of value on a game of chance in hopes of a desired result. Many times people risk money, but money is not always the item at risk.  People can bet using digital items, possessions they own, or anything else that has worth.

The other important thing to remember is that there must be chance involved.  There must be a chance that the outcome can go one way or another.  Chance is what causes the excitement in a person’s brain who is gambling.  The excitement of chance is what people can get addicted to.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling occurs any time gambling causes problems in someone’s life. These problems can be focusing on the person who chooses to gamble, or loved ones, friends and colleagues who are negatively affected by someone’s gambling.

Problems from Gambling

When people think of problem gambling, the first thing people think of is money. While lack of money is an important factor, the consequences reach much further.  When someone is struggling with a gambling problem, they’re so focused on gambling they struggle to pay attention to loved ones, friends and colleagues around them. They may lose touch with these people, and really struggle to get things accomplished at work or at home. 

The heaviest toll, though, can weight on a person’s mental health.  Between distance and problems between loved ones, struggles at work, and the heavy weight of an increasing debt, mental health problems start to show.  Of people who struggle with problem gambling:

  • 41% also have an anxiety disorder
  • 49% also have a mood disorder,
  • 60% also have a personality disorder (Petry et al, 2005), and 
  • Nearly 37% of those experiencing a gambling problem and 50% of those with disordered gambling have had suicidal thoughts. Over 17% of these individuals have attempted suicide (Moghaddam et al, 2015).

There are a number of warning signs to look for to help identity a gambling problem.

Problem Gambling Warning Signs

There are many warning signs of a gambling problem. It’s important to know these warning signs to be able to identify a problem with a loved one.  Many times, a gambling problem goes undetected because there aren’t any outward, visible signs of a problem like there are with substance addictions.  Some warning signs include:

  • Tolerance is the need to gamble with more money, and for more time, for the same satisfaction.
  • Preoccupation relates to the person struggling to stop thinking about gambling.
  • Withdrawl is the physical or emotional signs of discomfort or agitation experienced while not gambling.
  • Lying about where someone has been or how much time and money they spent while gambling.
  • Chasing losses, or gambling with additional money for a longer time than planned to win back losses. 
  • Bailouts or requesting any some of money to pay off gambling debts.

Learn more about problem gambling warning signs to find many more ways to identify whether or not someone may be struggling with a gambling

Help for Problem Gambling

There are many different types of help for problem Gambling. From informational materials and videos to self-help groups and clinical treatment, there is help for everyone in need.

The easiest way to identify local resources and support is by contacting your local New York State Problem Gambling Resource Center. Any person calling for assistance will be connected to a trained individual.  That individual will guide callers to the support or services that they’re looking for that are closest to where they live.

We hope this review of the basics about problem gambling was helpful, and offers the background of information for anyone who thinks gambling is causing problems in their life.


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