What is Problem Gambling? Posted On


Gambling is the act of risking something of value on a game of chance for a desired outcome.  Many people gamble and don’t struggle with problem gambling, but those who do struggle cause a significant amount of emotional and financial problems to their loved ones and themselves.   

Gambling opportunities are everywhere 

At one point in history, you needed to travel to a casino.  Now, whole casinos are online, lottery vendors in nearly every community, and many new land-based casinos are being built.  Plus, with the availability of accessing the internet anywhere from smart phones and tablets, reaching gambling opportunities is easier than ever.  For those who can gamble responsibly this may not be a problem, but the increase in accessibility does increase their risk for developing a gambling problem.  

Problem Gambling 

Problem gambling is gambling behavior that compromises, disrupts or damages personal, familial or professional pursuits.  Simply stated: if gambling is causing problems in someone’s life, then their gambling is a problem and they may be struggling with problem gambling.   

Many people struggle with problem gambling and don’t know it.  Many people are living with someone struggling with problem gambling, and don’t know it, either.  This is why problem gambling is called the hidden addiction.  Unlike addictions to substances like alcohol, you can’t smell, or see signs of a problem gambler like slurred speech.  There are warning signs, but they’re not as easy to identify. 

Warning signs of a problem gambler include: 

  • Gambling longer than planned; 
  • Thoughts of gambling disrupt sleep; 
  • Gambling to escape worry, boredom or trouble; 
  • Arguments, disappointments or frustrations cause more gambling; 
  • Celebrate good times with gambling; 
  • Self-destructive thoughts because of problems from gambling; 
  • Lost time from work or school due to gambling;
  • Using rent/mortgage or food money for gambling;
  • Borrow money to finance gambling or pay back gambling debts;
  • Promise loved one to stop gambling, yet continue to gamble;
  • Personality change since beginning to gamble; 

 There is help and hope 

Someone who fits the warning signs of problem gambling may want to seek help.  There are a number of options to help someone struggling.   The easiest way to identify the options for help with problem gambling in someone’s local area is by calling the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (or 1-877-846-7369).