Signs of Problem Gambling

Given the subtle nature of gambling problems,
how can you identify someone who is at risk for compulsive gambling?

Eight warning signs of a gambling problem:

1. Increased frequency of gambling activity
2. Increased amount of money gambled
3. Gambling for longer periods of time than originally planned
4. Bragging about wins, but not talking about losses
5. Pressuring others for money as financial problems arise
6. Lying about how money is spent
7. Escaping to other excesses (alcohol, drugs, sleep, etc.)
8. Denying there is a problem
Additional signs of problem gambling may include frequent absences from home and work, excessive phone use, withdrawal from family, personality changes (increased irritability/hostility) and diversion of family funds. It’s important to realize that problem gambling can affect anyone.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), in 2013 made some significant changes in the way problem gambling was classified. The name changed from Pathological Gambling to Gambling Disorder and was reclassified under Addiction and Related Disorders. Diagnostic criteria (responding affirmatively to the questions below), were cut from 5 out of 10 to 4 out of 9 affirmative responses.

  • Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the same level of excitement.
  • Restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop
  • Preoccupied with gambling (reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture or thinking of ways in which to gamble)
  • Often gambles when feeling distressed
  • After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (chase one’s loses)
  • Lies to conceal the extend of involvement with gambling
  • Jeopardized or lost a relationship or job
  • Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling (bail out)

Problem gambling manifests differently depending on the specific population and context. Signs of problem gambling can be recognized in the workplace, in school or among older adults.

To help determine if you or someone you know is at risk for problem gambling, take the 2-minute risk test (below). If you think you need help or know someone that does, there are resources available. If you’d like to seek help immediately, please call the Minnesota Problem Gambling helpline at 1-800-333-4673 (HOPE).

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Are You at Risk for Problem Gambling?

Two questions can help determine if you’re at risk for problem gambling.

 Answer Questions Here