Many people enjoy gambling and do so responsibly. But for a few, gambling is not a social activity. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that 2.7% of American adults are pathological or problem gamblers.

An untreated gambling addiction, like any other, can destroy families, careers, and can even be life-threatening. It’s important, therefore, to recognizing the signs and urge help.

The following are some of the frequent signs that have been associated with people who are struggling with a gambling addiction or who are becoming addicted.

Adults

  • Mounting, unpaid bills and pursue by debt collectors
  • Gambling to escape worry, boredom or problems
  • Constantly thinking about gambling
  • Thoughts about gambling disrupting sleep
  • Routinely gambling longer than planned
  • Having thoughts about self-harm or suicide because of problems resulting from gambling
  • Taking time off work or from school to gamble
  • Hiding money from family to gamble (or, hiding money from a spouse/family member so they don’t spent it on gambling)
  • Stealing money to gamble or pay gambling debts
  • Borrowing money to finance gambling or to pay back gambling debts
  • Continuing to gamble even after promises and commitments to stop
  • Changes in mood and behavior coinciding with gambling episodes
  • Missing important events, appointments and other commitments as a result gambling

See other behavioral signs of Gambling Addiction

Students

Adolescents and college-aged individuals are also vulnerable to gambling addiction, and may express signs that are different than adults:

  • Unexplained absences from school or classes
  • Sudden drop in grades or failure to complete assignments on time
  • Change of personality or behavior
  • Exaggerated display of money or other material possessions
  • Daily or weekly card game
  • Bragging about winning at gambling
  • Intense interest in gambling conversations
  • Unusual interest in newspapers/magazines/periodicals/sports scores
  • Unaccountable explanation for new items of value in possession
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Uncharacteristically forgetting appointments or dates
  • Exaggerated use of word “bet” in vocabulary and/or use of gambling language in conversations (e.g. bookie, point spread, underdog, favorite)

Work-place signs

Gambling problems can impact the workplace causing distress for the individual employee as well as peers. If you are concerned about one of your employees or colleagues, ask yourself the following:

  • Does the employee spend excessive time away from the job? (NOTE: Excessive time away from the job may include extended use of telephone to place bets or check results; reviewing form sheets, racing, sports or the stock pages in the newspaper, when pretending to work; participating in cards, lottery and/or office pools often, etc.)
  • Does the employee take unusual amounts of sick time, especially half-days? (NOTE: The compulsive gambler frequently takes excessive time. S/he often suffers from depression, hypertension, ulcers and other health problems. S/he also uses sick time to gamble.)
  • Does the employee routinely arrive late, leave early, take long lunches or experience difficulties reporting and/or remaining in scheduled work location(s)?
  • Does the employee talk or worry about money problems, or experience money difficulties, resulting in requests for cash advances or loans (i.e. borrowing) from fellow employees and/or employer?
  • Does the employee always seem to be the person who starts and/or runs the office pools (e.g. sports, lottery, birth)?
  • Does the employee encourage coworkers to bet in office pools and/or bet more money?
  • Does the employee try to organize an office excursion to a casino or racetrack?
  • Does the employee have a history of writing bad checks?
  • Does the employee have more than one mailing address?
  • Does the employee’s use of company money seem suspicious or inappropriate?