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What is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is gambling behavior that causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational.

This behavior includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as pathological or compulsive gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling
  • A need to bet more money more frequently
  • Restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop
  •  "Chasing" losses
  • Loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

National Counsel on Problem Gambling:

Understanding how gambling works and the dangers that are associated with gambling is an important step in your journey.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) uses the following to help individuals determine whether they have a gambling problem. A compulsive gambler will answer "yes" to at least seven of the questions:

  1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?

  2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?

  3. Did gambling affect your reputation?

  4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?

  5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?

  6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?

  7. After losing, did you feel that you had to return as soon as possible and win back your losses?

  8. After a win, did you have a strong urge to return and win more?

  9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?

  10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?

  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance your gambling?

  12. Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?

  13. Did gambling make you careless about the welfare of your family?

  14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?

  15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?

  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?

  17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?

  18. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?

  19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

Information from:

Gambling at your Fingertips - Everywhere

Remote gambling is any form of gambling in which a person participates by the use of remote communication and players do not need to be face to face. It can be conducted from the safety of a gambler's own home, car, airplane, street corner, café, school room, board room, or any place a remote communication device is operable.

What makes Remote Gambling a growing concern?

. It is immediate - accessed from anywhere, anytime.
  . It is a solitary endeavor.
  . It is even more hidden than other forms of gambling.
  . Others know that it is a problem only after their lives have been painfully affected.

Remote gambling includes:

. Internet sites
  . Mobile devices for text messaging and internet/web access
  . Cell phone, telephone
  . Interactive TV

Facts on Remote Gambling

. In 2005 it was estimated that the internet had over 2,500 gambling sites and that number continues to grow

. Online poker has over 400 websites and is growing

. It is estimated that there are over 5 million online transactions conducted per day, or an average of about 300 bets per second

. There is no US regulation on how the sites control payouts and percentages of payoffs. The sites could manipulate the gambler to think they are skilled and can outplay the others on the site. If the gambler wins and plays with greater amounts of money the site could decrease the gambler's odds.

Remote gambling is attractive to persons who:

. Want immediate access
  . Are socially shy and lack confidence
  . Prefer privacy
  . Are uncomfortable with physical nearness to others
  . Disabled and do not want to be seen as different
  . Want to decrease social barriers based on sex, race, age, disability
  . Want to be someone they are not

Remote Gambling makes the gambler feel:

. Uninhibited - people do and say things in cyberspace that they wouldn't
  ordinarily say in the real world
  . Interactive with others without face to face contact
  . As if they can escape and get away from the real world
  . Intelligent, skilled, and all powerful until they start losing

Thoughts of the Remote Gambler

. You don't know me - anonymity
  . You can't see me - invisibility
  . See you later - don't relate in real time, wait for messages
  . It's just a game - real money does not change hands - it's all credits
  . We're equals - authority really does not exist

What Remote Gambling Provides

. Gratification: No waiting, instant
  . Anticipation: Removed gambling, instant action, adrenaline rush
  . Companion: Always there when needed
  . Fantasy: Takes you to it, change persona
  . Expression: In a private world, more satisfying than real life
  . Ego: Boosts for fragile/bruised ego
  . Freedom: Lacking boundaries and constraints. Limit only by extent cash/credit
  . Chasing: Access to chase losses is as close as the nearest computer
  . A Chance: A Chance to lose financial resources, friends, jobs, family, freedom, etc.

Remote gambling does not include face-to-face encounters.
It is solitary and unmonitored.

Awareness of this problem needs to be a family matter - the people most likely to discover the gambling problem are family, friends and those closest to the gambler.

Information from:

  Is someone you know.?

. Preoccupied with gambling (i.e. reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).

. Secretive about his/her gambling habits, and defensive when confronted.

. Increasing bet amounts when gambling in order to achieve the desired excitement ("high").

. Trying unsuccessfully to control, cut back, or stop gambling.

. Restless or irritable when not gambling.

. Gambling to escape problems.

. "Chasing" losses with more gambling.

. Lying to family and others about the extent of gambling.

. Committing crimes to finance gambling.

. Jeopardizing or losing relationships, jobs, education or career opportunities because of gambling.

. Relying on others to bail him or her out to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.

If any of these statements sound like someone you know, that person may have a problem with gambling.


There is help for the family members and friends of a compulsive gambler in Gam-anon

Information from Gam- anon:


Some Myth's and Fact's about Gambling:


Myth: You have to gamble everyday to be a problem gambler.

Fact: A problem gambler may gamble frequently or infrequently. If a person's gambling is causing psychological, financial, emotional, marital, legal or other difficulties for themselves and the people around them, then they have a gambling problem.

Myth: Problem gamblers gamble at any opportunity on any form of gambling.

Fact: Most problem gamblers have a favorite form of gambling that causes them problems. Some gamblers also engage in secondary forms of gambling, but these are not usually as problematic.

Myth: Problem gamblers are irresponsible people.

Fact: Many problem gamblers hold, or have held, responsible community positions. In addition, even people with a long history of responsible behavior are vulnerable to developing a gambling problem. When a person is having a problem gambling episode, that person is unable to control their gambling and in this compromised state their actions look like irresponsible behavior.

Myth: If a problem gambler builds up a debt, the important thing to do is to help them get out of the financial problem as soon as possible.

Fact: Quick fix solutions are often attractive to everyone involved and may appear to be the right thing to do, however, "bailing" the gambler out of debt may actually make matters worse by enabling gambling problems to continue.

Myth: Problem gambling is easy to recognize.

Fact: Problem gambling has been called the hidden addiction. It is very easy to hide as it has few recognizable symptoms, unlike alcohol and drug use. Many problem gamblers themselves do not recognize they have a gambling problem. Problem gamblers often engage in self-denial.

March 5-11, 2007 Adapted from Chris Lobsinger's Problem Gambling Pages.


Helpful Links :

Pennsylvania's website :

Gambler's Anonymous :


Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders:

National Counsel on Problem Gambling:

National Problem Gambling Awareness:

Resolve Crisis Network: 1.888.7.YOU CAN (1.888.796.8226)  

If you feel gambling affects your life in a negative way, call Counseling and Health Services at 412-847-2506 located Bold Hall 261 and 259.