About Problem Gambling

The impacts of a gambling problem affect individuals, families and communities, with costs extending from creditors to the criminal justice system.

Most people who gamble can do so safely and without difficulty. However, gambling is not a risk-free activity. When gambling in excess, the onset of an addiction can result in serious to severe short and long-term difficulties. In addition to affecting an individual’s home life, financial status, career, education, social relationships, and physical or emotional health, gambling problems also impact those closest to the gambler. Moreover, businesses, local communities, the criminal justice system, social service organizations, and society as a whole are also significantly affected by a problem and compulsive gambling.

 Divorce, loss of productivity, bankruptcy, and crime are only a few of the many consequences that can occur.”

While gambling may begin as a social activity, for many, it is a mental health issue that progresses from at-risk, all the way to pathological addiction, putting gamblers through endless consequences based on the extent of the problem. However, the good news is that compulsive gambling is treatable for those who seek help.

Who's affected?

Individuals

Loved ones

Youth

College Students

Seniors

Others

A gambling problem can negatively affect an individual's home life, financial status, career, education, social relationships, and physical and emotional health.
Compulsive gambling can have a devastating effect in any area of an individual’s life. Of course, financial problems are the first thing that comes to mind but other areas such as work, relationships and mental health are also affected.

 

A compulsive gambler will do anything to stay in action even if it means neglecting family, missing work or depleting savings accounts".

 

A compulsive gambler will do anything to stay in action even if it means neglecting family, missing work or depleting savings accounts. Often times a compulsive gambler will resort to illegal activities to finance their gambling addiction (fraud, larceny and embezzlement are a few examples). This type of behavior can cause irreparable damage if not addressed as soon as possible.

 

National statistics show that 1 in 5 compulsive gamblers will attempt suicide".

 

Further, compulsive gamblers have a strong tendency to attempt suicide as they feel there is no way to change their behavior and correct the harm that has been done. National statistics show that 1 in 5 compulsive gamblers will attempt suicide. This is the highest rate of suicide among addictive disorders.

To see if you would benefit from our resources, please take our Self Assessment Quiz

A gambling addiction extends beyond the gambler. Family members and friends are often severely impacted by the gambler's behaviors and activities.

Statistics show that an average of 8-10 people are also negatively affected by a compulsive gambler. Family members, friends, co-workers and others can experience financial and emotional repercussions due to this addiction.

Because of the non-physical symptoms of a gambling addiction, even the ones closest to the gambler often do not recognize that there is a problem until the gambler has crossed into a desperate or hopeless phase. Hence, compulsive gambling is known as the “hidden addiction”. There are signs that loved ones can look for.

 

Statistics show that an average of 8-10 people are also negatively affected by a compulsive gambler".
 

 

To determine whether you have a compulsive gambler in your life, here are a few things to look for:

  • Isolation
  • Unaccounted blocks of time
  • Mood swings
  • Neglecting personal needs or responsibilities
  • Claiming a sudden need for money or loans
  • Secretive or lying about money and/or gambling
  • Spending more time gambling than any other activity
  • Boasting about winning, often minimizing or denying losses and exaggerating wins
  • Missing work or school due to gambling
  • Arguing with spouse, partner, other family members, or friends due to gambling
  • Experiencing behavioral or personality changes when watching or listening to sports
  • Having difficulty sleeping or eating

To see if a loved one would benefit from our resources, please take our Loved Ones Assessment Quiz

A gambling addiction extends beyond the gambler. Family members and friends are often severely impacted by the gambler's behaviors and activities.

Many young people don't know it, but betting or gambling can become addictive. In the same way that people become addicted to drugs and alcohol, some individuals can experience difficulty trying to stop gambling. Teens and young adults with gambling problems often have much higher rates of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, struggle with depression, are more likely to commit crimes and to participate in other illegal and at-risk activities.

 

Teens and young adults with gambling problems often have much higher rates of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use".

 

To approach a friend or someone you care about regarding their gambling behavior, the following tips can help guide your conversation. Remember that friends depend on friends to tell the truth, so be sure to do your part.

  • Become educated about the subject
  • Make a plan to talk to your friend when you have time and are feeling calm
  • Be sure you have identified a safe place to have a serious and private talk
  • Don’t avoid the topic – be direct
  • Express concerns honestly by providing observations
  • Avoid passing judgment and verbal attacks
  • Offer support but be clear about the type of support you're willing to provide
  • Encourage activities you can do together that are not gambling related
  • Advise there is help and hope and one doesn't need to handle the problem alone

Many young people don't know it, but betting or gambling can become addictive.

 

To see if a loved one would benefit from our resources, please take our Youth Assessment Quiz

To review and order posters, brochures, toolkits, videos, and other materials available for youth, adolescents, and young adults visit our Resources section.

All material requests must be made by calling our 24-hour confidential HelpLine - or - Email Us!.

A gambling addiction extends beyond the gambler. Family members and friends are often severely impacted by the gambler's behaviors and activities.

What starts out as a good time or a bet among friends can often end up causing serious financial and personal problems. With so many college students gambling on cards, sports, the Internet, dice, and numerous other things, some get to a point where their lives become unmanageable.

College students with a gambling problem can risk ruining their lives at a period in time when they are first gaining independence and self-reliance. Gambling-driven decisions made by college-age students can have lifelong negative impacts.

 College students with a gambling problem may:

  • Spend money they don’t have
  • Max out credit cards
  • Lie to family and friends
  • Borrow and steal from others
  • Use other people’s credit cards without permission
  • Argue with family and friends about gambling
  • Lose scholarship and job opportunities
  • Commit crimes to gamble or pay off losses
  • Fail or drop out of school
  • Become depressed and have suicidal thoughts

What starts out as a good time or a bet among friends can often end up causing serious financial and personal problems".

 

To approach a friend or someone you care about regarding their gambling behavior, the following tips can help guide your conversation. Remember that friends depend on friends to tell the truth, so be sure to do your part.

  • Become educated about the subject
  • Make a plan to talk to your friend when you have time and are feeling calm
  • Be sure you have identified a safe place to have a serious and private talk
  • Don’t avoid the topic – be direct
  • Express concerns honestly by providing observations
  • Avoid passing judgment and verbal attacks
  • Offer support but be clear about the type of support you're willing to provide
  • Encourage activities you can do together that are not gambling related
  • Advise there is help and hope and one doesn't need to handle the problem alone

College students with a gambling problem can risk ruining their lives at a period in time when they are first gaining independence and self-reliance".

 

To see if a loved one would benefit from our resources, please take our Student Assessment Quiz

To review and order posters, brochures, toolkits, videos, and other materials available for youth, adolescents, and young adults visit our Resources section.

All material requests must be made by calling our 24-hour confidential HelpLine - or - Email Us!.

A gambling addiction extends beyond the gambler. Family members and friends are often severely impacted by the gambler's behaviors and activities.

Gambling among older adults is on the rise, largely due to the availability and accessibility of options in the state. When gambling becomes a problem among seniors, it can be particularly challenging since it occurs at a time in a person’s life when recouping financial losses can be very difficult, if not impossible.

 

Gambling among older adults is on the rise, largely due to the availability and accessibility of options in the state".

 

For many seniors, gambling is an escape from boredom brought about by an increase of unstructured time after retirement, or following the death of a spouse or other loved one. For many, their social network may not be large enough to draw the necessary support. By 2020, there will be approximately 15 million Americans ages 65 and older living alone. As a result, many elders may turn to gambling, not only as a social and entertainment activity, but also as a means of trying to deal with the loss, the grief, and the time. However, gambling is not a risk-free activity, particularly among this population.

 

For many years, the FCCG has played an instrumental role in convening experts within the elder service community to address issues related to senior gambling".

 

What makes seniors particularly vulnerable?

There are several factors that contribute to why seniors are particularly vulnerable when confronting gambling related difficulties. The ones most often identified include the following:

  • Onset of retirement and unstructured time
  • Loss of family members and other supports
  • Memory challenges
  • Physical limitations
  • Lack of alternative activities
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Inability to recover financial losses
  • Marketing by gambling industry
  • Recreational offerings by senior centers and other organization outings

What Information is available to seniors and others?

For many years, the FCCG has played an instrumental role in convening experts within the elder service community to address issues related to senior gambling. In addition to a national think tank, prevalence study, and other research initiatives undertaken by the FCCG, in cooperation with others, the Agency developed its Playing It Safe toolkit , which is a free educational and instructional packet that enables senior service providers to present the topic of gambling and older adults effectively and creatively. To review and obtain copies of studies or to learn more about the toolkit’s contents, as well as other materials geared toward seniors, view our Resources section.

To see if you would benefit from our resources, please take our Self Assessment Quiz

A gambling addiction extends beyond the gambler. Family members and friends are often severely impacted by the gambler's behaviors and activities.

In addition, a wide range of professionals, including doctors, lawyers and judges, athletes and others, are among those most likely to be at risk for developing a gambling problem. In Florida, gambling problems are on the rise given the expansion of gambling opportunities, coupled with the promotion of venues by the gaming industry, government, the media, and others.

 

Lawyers and judges, athletes and others, are among those most likely to be at risk for developing a gambling problem".

 

The FCCG has designed a series of comprehensive programs that provide help to those battling the addiction of problem gambling. The organization has programs for elementary, middle, high school, and college students; student-athletes; parents and educators; addiction and mental health professionals; medical doctors; gaming operators; employers; older adults; and the military. We also have developed special self-help programs and materials for gamblers, loved ones, and older adult gamblers.

For more information on these materials please visit our Resources Page.

Thankfully, help is available and gambling addiction can be treated if recognized. If you need assistance, contact our 24 hour, confidential
Helpline 
888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848) for resources and support.

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