How does it develop?

Problem Gambling usually develops from social gambling and is characterised by three key phases:

  • The Winning Phase
  • The Losing Phase
  • The Desperation Phase


Problem Gambling is…

​Problem Gambling is

  • An addiction similar to alcohol, smoking or drug addictions
  • Gambling with little or no control
  • A preoccupation with gambling
  • An obsession with chasing losses
  • Gambling that causes harm to self and/or family

Problem gambling can refer to the behaviour of persons who are addicted to gambling and find it difficult to stop. Like any addiction, symptoms can range from the mild to the severe. The most serious form of the gambling is called “Pathological”, “Disordered” or “Compulsive” Gambling.

It can also refer to the negative or harmful outcomes that result from gambling, which may affect either the gambler or those close to the gambler.

What are the signs?

​Someone with a gambling problem may behave in the following manner:

  • Constantly thinking or talking about gambling
  • Spending more time or money on gambling than he/she can afford
  • Finding it difficult to control, stop, or cut down gambling, or feeling irritable when trying to do so
  • Feeling a sense of emptiness or loss when not gambling
  • Gambling more in order to win back losses or get out of financial trouble
  • Borrowing money, selling things, committing (or considering committing) criminal acts in order to get money for gambling
  • Having increased debt, unpaid bills, or other financial troubles because of gambling
  • Gambling to the last dollar

What are the consequences?

It is estimated that for every Problem Gambler, about eight to ten other people (e.g. their spouse, children, parents, other family members, friends, employers, etc) are harmed by gambling.

Some of the harms of excessive gambling are:

  • Financial problems: Severe debts or the lost of savings or property may arise as a result of gambling losses. The gambler may even resort to borrowing money or stealing to fund gambling activities.
  • Relational Problems: Lying or deceit on the part of the problem gambler due to the desire to hide gambling activities may strain relationships.
  • Physical and mental health: The stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide.

Misconceptions about Problem Gambling

Problem gambling is more than just about an individual engaging in excessive, out-of-control gambling. Studies have found that gambling addiction is a form of mental illness that is especially dangerous due to difficulty in detection.

The common misconceptions about problem gambling include:

  • It only affects the gambler
  • It is easy to spot the signs
  • Settling a gambler’s debt will solve the problem
  • It is not treatable