Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life. Gambling problems can affect anyone from any walk of life. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that approximately four to six million – two to three percent of the population – meet the criteria for problem gambling. Another two million U.S. adults – 1 percent of the population – meet the criteria for a gambling disorder.
Whether you bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or slots, and in a casino, at the track, or online, you can develop a gambling problem. You can also have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.
Gambling addiction signs and symptoms
- Hiding your gambling. You might gamble in secret or lie about how much you gamble because you feel others won’t understand or that you will surprise them with a big win.
- Trouble controlling your gambling. Can you walk away once you start gambling? Or are you compelled to continue gambling and upping your bets in a bid to win lost money back until you’ve spent your last dollar?
- Gambling even when you don’t have the money. You may gamble until you’ve spent your last dollar, and then move on to money you don’t have—money to pay bills, credit cards, or things for your children.
If you are concerned about your own gambling habits, or the gambling habits of someone who you care about, your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Your EAP provides you and your eligible household members with free and confidential support for a wide array of personal challenges, including problem gambling. EAP assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, contact your Component EAP, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.