Problem Gambling

Gamblers enjoy everything from free charity bingo to high-roller poker tournaments and everything in between. It can be fun and profitable, but it can also be addictive and problematic.

If you think you have a gambling problem, seek out some of the discreet online resources to help you. We list some links and phone numbers below and encourage everyone to reach out at the first sign that gambling is moving from a fun pastime to a compulsive activity.

How do I know if I have a gambling problem?

If you clicked this link to research the topic, it’s a good bet (pardon the pun) that you may think you have a problem. And that is a great first step to finding a solution or helping to control the behavior you are worried about.

Problem gambling can take many forms, whether binge gambling (similar to binge drinking where it gets out of control for periods of time) and compulsive gambling (where a person simply cannot stop thinking about it or doing it.

What are the signs of problem gambling?

  • Lying to family or colleagues to conceal your gambling or gambling losses
  • Spending too much time on the pastime, such that you are missing out on other pursuits or relationships
  • Betting bigger amounts to get the satisfaction or ‘rush’ of gambling
  • Having relationships or job performance slip because of lack of focus or attention
  • Chasing losses with more betting, trying to catch up
  • Feeling shame or guilt for gambling

There are many signs and many ways that problem gamblers can mask those signs, so its often difficult for family or friends to notice. It is also important to consult a medical professional because problem gambling is a complicated subject with complicated root causes. And sometimes there are multiple causes at work.

Research shows that problem gamblers may also experience other mental health conditions such as substance use, depression, and anxiety disorders.

What do I do? Who do I call?

Consult a trusted a friend or family member who can help. You can also sign up for Gamblers Anonymous meetings or attend online help sessions. Nobody benefits from problem gambling – the person loses, the family loses, the casino loses as well because casino sites want players who are playing within their limits and risking only what they can comfortably lose.

Gamblers Anonymous – Gamblers Anonymous offers local groups around the world and offers a 12-step program. It is designed to help problem gamblers avoid their old habits. There are spin-off groups for families and children of problem gamblers.

National Council on Problem Gambling – The National Council on Problem Gambling is independent of the gambling industry and offers treatment information and counselors. There are offices around the United States and they also run a hotline 800-522-4700.

In UK

GamCare – GamCare is a charity based in the UK which is bankrolled by the industry. Its hotline is 0808 8020 133.

In Canada

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – http://www.problemgambling.ca/gambling-help/

In Australia

Lifeline – https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/problem-gambling