What Are the Warning Signs of a Gambling Problem?


Gambling is a form of entertainment and an activity that involves risk. It can involve betting on sports, horse races, lottery tickets, poker, video games, online gambling and more. Whether it’s for fun or for money, gambling triggers a wide range of emotions, including excitement and euphoria. But when people get addicted to gambling, it can cause serious problems. Problem gambling is a significant public health issue, creating a variety of personal, social and economic difficulties for individuals and families. The good news is that help is available for those struggling with gambling addiction. The Responsible Gambling Council has compiled some of the most common warning signs that you or someone you know may be suffering from a gambling problem.

Experiencing any of these symptoms can indicate that you should seek professional help to stop gambling. There are many treatment programs available, such as individual and family therapy, marriage, career and credit counseling, and peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. During treatment, a trained therapist will teach you the tools needed to break the gambling cycle.

When a person gambles, their brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of reward. This can lead to compulsive behavior that is hard to stop. In addition to this, a person’s attitude toward gambling can affect their ability to control their gambling habits and can lead them to spend more than they can afford.

The negative side of gambling includes emotional distress, debt, and loss of financial resources. A person who engages in gambling can experience feelings of stress, regret and guilt that can be difficult to cope with. In addition, a person who gambles often experiences boredom and loneliness. Some people turn to gambling as a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, unwind after a stressful day or to socialize. However, there are healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and combat boredom and isolation, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies or practicing relaxation techniques.

Those who are in trouble with their gambling can face a variety of legal consequences. Depending on the state, a misdemeanor conviction can result in up to a year in jail and fines. A felony conviction can carry much more severe penalties, including prison time and a life-long ban on gambling. In addition, courts commonly order convicted felons to attend a gambling-addiction treatment program and adhere to other court-ordered conditions. Those who are on probation for gambling-related crimes must also abide by these requirements.