When is gambling an addiction?

When gambling is an addiction … what do you do? We review some possible situations and scenarios you can use to help identify problem gambling. More about gambling addiction here.

minute read

You know you’ve got a gambling problem …

If we tell ourselves we will leave the casino at 10:00pm, whether we’re ahead or losing, and we don’t leave until 4:00am the next morning, perhaps there’s a problem.

If we say we will leave after the one hundred dollars is gone and when there is no money left, we head for the ATM machine.  We should be concerned about our gambling.

When we run out of gambling money, do we find ourselves dipping into our savings or the kids college fund.  If we’re guilty of doing that, we need help.

Perhaps we think about the casino even when we’re not even there.  Thinking about gambling will interrupt our daily chores.

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Are we spending too much time in the casino and lying to our friends? And telling ourselves, “Its my money and I can do with it whatever I want to” or, “Its nobody’s business what I do.”

If we think we might have a problem, a test could be to stay away from the casino for at least thirty days and see if we have any emotional or mental stress.  If we do, gambling could be a problem.

Questions for the problem gambler

There are several resources where the gambler may answer questions to decide whether there is a problem or not. GA has Twenty Questions that will help a person make the decision.  South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), has a twenty-item scale questionnaire and the NORC DSM Screen for Gambling Problems (NODS) has questions for the gambler. The Canadian Problem Gambling Index (CPGI), has a thirty one-item measure of problem gambling and gambling involvement.  You can find gambling screening tools at the National Gambling Awareness Week’s website.

What to do if you have a gambling problem

People who gamble for entertainment do not need to ask themselves if they have a problem. If we question our gambling behavior, we probably have a problem. But thankfully there are places we can find help with our addiction. Today there are counselors who are trained to treat compulsive gambling and there are the twelve-step programs to help the gambler. And best of all, the gambler only has to work on his recovery, One Day at a Time!

Don’t let your loved one suffer.
Addiction responds to treatment. Call us to get started.
About the author
Marilyn Lancelot is a recovering alcoholic and compulsive gambler with twenty years of recovery. She has authored three books, Gripped by Gambling , Detour, and Switching Addictions. She also publishes a newsletter on-line, Women Helping Women for recovery from gambling. This newsletter has been published for more than 10 years and is read by women and men around the world.


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  1. I used to like to gamble about 2x a year but since I moved, about 4 months ago. I’ve been gambling more and more. I’m spending more also each time, and have some weird sort of favorite machine. I tell my husband I only spent this much, when I spent more. how can I control this? I do have bipolar 1 disorder. not sure if its linked? I’m on meds.

    1. Hello Cristine. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step to getting better. Have you tried Gamblers Anonymous? You can also seek help from a counselor who has experience working with problem gamblers.

  2. Hi Jake. Help is out there. Are you ready to look for help and to do what it takes to understand the compulsion to gamble? Support groups, psychotherapy and/or inpatient treatment can help.

  3. Gambling addiction is hard to deal with. You can tell people you are a drug addict or you have a drinking problem. Nobody understands what it is like to get hooked on gambling. This demon has its hooks deep in me.

  4. Hi Fischetti. I hear your concern and grief about your dad’s gambling problem in your comment. I’d suggest that you contact the National Council on Problem Gambling at 1-800-522-4700 and ask for information on next steps – should/can you plan an intervention, what treatment is possible, what you can do as a loved one…etc. Also, look into Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT), which has been used in cases of substance abuse, but can apply to any addiction, really.

    Does this help?

  5. My Dad is 74 years old and live in El Paso, Texas. He is addicted to gambling – he is in credit card debt and does not pay his bills nor does he care. I live in the Washington, DC area and can not control his behavior – i’m at a loss on what to do – I need help and have no where to turn…. could use so advice.

I am ready to call
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