Section background image

Problem Gambling

Problem gambling has a negative effect on the life of the gambler or the people close to them, like parents, friends, brothers and sisters, boyfriends or girlfriends, and others in their lives. It might be that someone’s gambling is causing them to be unhappy, have less energy, fall behind at school, underperform at work, stress about money, or have arguments with family members and friends. If someone’s gambling is causing any of these effects, it is considered to be problem gambling.

Anyone can develop a gambling problem. Two of the things that seem to put young people at risk of developing a problem are a history of gambling in their family and the age they started gambling themselves. The earlier people start, the more likely they are to experience gambling-related problems later on.

Signs and Symptoms

People don’t start out as problem gamblers. It starts as a fun activity, but somewhere along the way it begins to cause problems. If you think there’s a problem, the chances are there is one. That’s why you should know and look out for these warning signs:

  • a significant interest in gambling and gambling-related activities
  • problems in school, such as a loss of interest or unexplained absences
  • changes in personality or behaviour
  • changes in relationships (new friends and acquaintances whilst ignoring old friends)
  • changes in mood
  • explosive bouts of anger
  • displays of anxiety and stress
  • spending more time and/or money gambling than intended
  • wanting to stop gambling or betting but thinking it’s too hard
  • telling lies about winnings
  • having arguments with family or friends
  • returning to win back money or possessions that you’ve already lost
  • feeling bad about gambling
  • regularly missing or being late for school or work
  • being criticised for gambling or identified by others as someone with a problem
  • borrowing money from people and not being able to pay them back because it’s been lost to gambling

Think that you or someone you know might have a problem?

Check out our self-assessment quiz.