How to recognize if you have a gambling addiction

Iasmina Bunea

Casino expert

How to recognize if you have a gambling addiction

Most of the time, gamblers don’t understand why is gambling addictive and don’t even realize they have a problem until it becomes severe. So, how do you know if you have a gambling problem?

There are signs you can look for. Our page will help you recognize the main gambling addiction symptoms in due time!

The different types of gambling addiction

  • Compulsive behaviors for all forms of gambling
  • Fixating on winning and chasing losses
  • Risky wagering to experience emotional high, etc.

First, we should know what we are dealing with

What is gambling addiction? It is a disorder that manifests as an obsession concerning any time of gambling behaviour.

The many testimonials of problem gamblers prove how difficult this condition is, and our selection of 13 life-stories of gambling addicts shows how truly destructive its consequences are.

There are different types of gaming compulsion, or better said, different ways in which it is expressed. Depending on the type of gambler we are talking about, the symptoms may be different.

Any form of gambling can become addictive

Most people think that this disorder is exclusively related to casinos, slot machines, and games such as Poker and Roulette. However, that is not all.

Gambling comes in many forms that may not even include casino games.

Buying a lottery ticket, making a bet with a friend, or entering a raffle are also types of gambling, and they are dangerous to people who are prone to addictive behaviours.

Fixating on financial gain is dangerous

Gambling in any form may occur either as a form of entertainment at first or when a person feels like they need to win money and fix their pre-existing financial issues.

This is a fantasy, as it usually leads to a cycle of winning and losing and then chasing the losses.

Don’t place risky bets to chase a feeling

Some gamblers engage in risky betting not because they don’t know they are placing risky bets.

They do it because they want to experience the emotional high that this brings them. Therefore, they find it almost impossible to stop.

Gambling addiction symptoms will be noticeable after a while

As this disorder is a progressive issue, it can cause a lot of harm to the gambler’s social and personal life and his own health, the longer it is left unchecked.

Behavioural signs - gambling addiction

Gambling addiction symptoms

  • Financial signs of gambling addiction;
  • Time-management signs & the lies gamblers tell;
  • Behavioural symptoms.

This compulsion affects the individual in many aspects, not just one. The first thing people think about when it comes to what causes gambling addiction and the first clue to recognizing it is the financial aspect.

This, indeed, is the most affected, but there are other areas where problems will appear in the life of someone addicted to gambling.

Financial signs of gambling addiction

Since any real gambling activity requires money, this is the first aspect of your life that will see some significant changes and, quickly, some significant problems.

The gambling addiction symptoms when it comes to financial resources are the following:

  1. Always being short on money even if they have a job;
  2. Regular amounts of money go missing from joint bank accounts or family members’ purse or wallet;
  3. Regularly borrowing money from friends and family;
  4. Having multiple loans at the same time and not being able to pay them in time;
  5. Unpaid bills or constant lack of food in the house even if they earn a wage;
  6. Being secretive about their financial records.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, all the signs may be present in someone who is addicted to gambling, or only a few.

However, the main sign everyone should always take seriously is when a person who is working and earning a wage continually complains about money or cannot make ends meet.

Financial signs of gambling addiction

Time-management signs & the lies gamblers tell

What is gambling addiction doing to a problem gambler’s time? It takes it over almost entirely.

Compulsive gambling starts with casual gambling, but as time passes by, some players spend more time engaging in this activity, some even to the point they do not have the time to do much of anything.

At this point, many start to lie to cover up their addiction, even from themselves.

Symptoms when it comes to time management are:

  • More time is spent gambling;
  • Taking many sick or personal days off from work for no apparent reason or by conjuring up untruthful situations;
  • Have plenty of unexplained absences and being secretive or lying about them;
  • Taking way too long to complete basic tasks;
  • Being consistently late for meetings and other commitments without valid excuses.

These changes can be seen especially in people who are organized and almost always on time.

Such signs alone do not prove the existence of such an addiction, but the lies gamblers tell can sometimes tip you off. Also, when paired with the other gambling addiction symptoms, they can make everything obvious.

Behavioural gambling addiction symptoms

Aside from time and financial changes, people will show plenty of mood changes and symptoms related to their day-to-day behaviour.

These include but may not be limited to:

  1. Work performance decreases;
  2. Changes in personality as well as eating and sleeping patterns;
  3. Becoming withdrawn from friends and family;
  4. Being restless, upset or worried for no apparent reason;
  5. Feeling depressed, frustrated, or hopeless;
  6. Controlling and manipulative behaviour that also includes threats or lies to obtain what they want.

Family and close friends will know the individual’s behavioural baseline and will be able to notice these changes. If they appear together with the ones mentioned above, they are most likely clear gambling addiction symptoms.

Self-assessment: how do you know if you have a gambling addiction?

By taking an informed and honest look at your own actions. In this case, remember: why is gambling addictive in the first place? A lot of the reasons for someone’s disorder will show up in their actions.

Here’s what gambling addiction symptoms to pay attention to:

    1. You cannot stop gambling

If you have decided to give up gambling multiple times, but your attempts were unsuccessful, that may mean you are a compulsive gambler. Ask yourself: can you truly give it up? Try to find out why is gambling addictive to you, and ask for professional help.

  1. You lie about your gambling habits

    Always seek help

    If you show these signs, it is best to get in touch with a professional and talk to your family or friends.

    Make sure you do your research and take the most effective treatment strategies for you. A professional will always be able to recommend the best course of action, and the support of the family will help you overcome this issue and get back on track quicker.

    Risk factors to consider

    Why is gambling addictive to some people and not others?

    Because there are risk factors which need to be taken into consideration, especially when trying to figure out if someone else has a gambling problem:

      1. Age

    While this issue can appear to people of all ages, it is most common in younger and middle-aged people.

    People who have engaged in gambling activities in childhood or teenage years have an increased risk of becoming problem gamblers.

      1. Friend(s) or family influence

    Having someone in your family with a gambling problem or someone in your group of friends who gambles a lot may increase your risk of developing the same issue.

      1. Sex

    While gambling patterns among men and women are becoming more similar, men engage in compulsive gambling more often. Women start gambling later in life, and their addiction may appear faster.

      1. Mental health disorders

    Pre-existing mental disorders such as personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or any other impulse-control disorders may be linked to pathological gambling behavior.

    Also, pathological gamblers often deal with substance abuse problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

      1. Medication

    Sometimes, drugs prescribed for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and the restless leg syndrome called dopamine agonists may result in compulsive behaviours as a rare side effect.

    This includes compulsive gambling, for some people.

    1. Certain personality traits

    Being a workaholic, a restless person, highly competitive or impulsive by nature may increase the risk of developing a compulsion.

    However, these can always be managed with behavioral therapy. 


    To resolve the root cause of this disorder, you must identify gambling addiction symptoms early on. For that to happen, you may look for these signs in yourself and others.

    This is a severe problem that can have plenty of complications and harm many aspects of the gambler’s life. That is why it is essential always to gamble responsibly and keep an eye out for the signs of gambling addiction described above.

    Also, keep in mind that if you think you might be having a gambling problem, it is best to seek professional gambling addiction treatment!