Never underestimate the power of denial

You tell yourself there's nothing wrong. That you win more than you lose. That you can walk away any time you want. But not today, because you're due for a big win that's going to solve your money problems once and for all. After that, you'll concentrate on getting your gambling under control.

There's just one problem — you're lying to yourself. And you're probably lying to your friends and family too. Not because you're a bad person, but because you're in denial about a very real problem.

When gambling becomes more than entertainment, it's a problem. Because you're not going to beat the house. And the odds are stacked a mile high that you're never going to get rich sitting at a poker table or a slot machine. In fact, for the problem gambler there is only one possible long-term outcome: losing it all.

Stop living in denial.
Admit that you have a problem and get help now.

Get informed about problem gambling

To win the war, know your enemy.

This is information to help you recognize and overcome problem gambling:

Do you or someone you know have a gambling problem?

Get help today.
Call The Pennsylvania Problem Gambling Helpline at

1.877.565.2112

You will be referred to professionals who can provide assistance to persons with gambling problems.

What is
Problem Gambling?

Definition of problem gambling:
Problem gambling is any type of gambling activity that disrupts other areas of your life, or the lives of the people around you. This includes school or work activities, relationships with family or friends, or your own physical and mental health.

For most people, gambling is just another form of entertainment, like watching a movie or a football game. But for some, gambling becomes more than recreation. It becomes a problem that affects other areas of their lives, from their careers to their families.

People with gambling problems tend to bet more than they can afford to lose, max out credit cards and borrow money to gamble. In most cases they will deny having a problem, continuing to chase losses while isolating themselves from family and friends. Problem gamblers usually need to bet more money, more frequently, to get the same thrill as someone without a problem. Locked in denial, they keep rolling the dice despite suffering serious consequences.

Problem gambling comes in many forms. For example, some people might be able to play the slot machines at a casino with no problem, but have a problem with sports betting. Others are "binge gamblers" who may only bet once or twice a year, but completely lose control when they do gamble.

Worried that you or someone you know has a gambling problem?

Know the
Warning signs

Below are some common warning signs of problem gambling.
The more signs you show, the more of a chance that you have a problem:

The
Mindset

The
Behavior

The
Effects

  • You're constantly thinking or talking about gambling.

  • You're bored when you're not gambling.

  • You gamble to take your mind off things.

  • You feel remorseful after gambling.

  • You feel a sense of emptiness or loss when not gambling.

  • You feel restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.

  • You believe that a winning streak will never end.

  • You think that your gambling will get under control as soon as you have a big win.

  • You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.

  • You borrow money from family and friends to gamble.

  • You often lose more money and spend more time gambling than you planned.

  • You used to only gamble with friends, but now gamble alone.

  • You gamble in order to win back losses or pay off debts.

  • You often gamble until all of your money is gone.

  • You lie about how much you gamble and how much you lose.

  • You neglect personal needs like food, sleep and personal hygiene because of gambling.

  • You neglect your job and your family and friends because of gambling.

  • You find yourself increasing bets to get the same excitement from gambling.

  • You have made repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.

  • You have arguments with family or friends about your gambling.

  • You use your household budget to finance your gambling.

  • Your bills are past due.

  • You have broken the law, or thought about doing it to finance your gambling.

  • You continue to gamble despite severe negative consequences.

  • You run up large credit card bills to continue gambling.

  • Your home is in foreclosure.

  • You lost your job.

Recognize warning signs in someone you know?

Know what you have to lose before you make the bet

Problem gambling can cost you more than every cent you have.
It can cost you the relationships that mean the most to you.
It can cost you your job.
It can even cost you your health.

What you have
to lose

  • 01

    money

    You may feel the first effects in dollars and cents. Credit card debt, loss of income, inability to pay bills and bankruptcy, just to name a few.

  • 02

    mind

    Problem gamblers often experience psychological problems like anxiety and depression. They are also at an increased risk for attempted suicide and abuse of alcohol and drugs.

  • 03

    body

    Problem gamblers will often neglect personal needs and suffer from poor nutrition, personal hygiene and lack of sleep.

  • 04

    job/school

    Problem gambling doesn't leave much time for school or work. Missed time/activities, poor performance and loss of employment are common.

  • 05

    friends & family

    Problem gambling can put an incredible strain on families and relationships. Arguments, separation, divorce and physical or mental abuse are common. Some problem gamblers even resort to crime to finance gambling or pay gambling debts.

Problem Gambling
Statistics

You might think that none of the negative consequences of problem gambling will happen to you. But they happen to people with gambling problems every day. These stats will help you face the facts of problem gambling.

Children of problem gamblers are often victims of abuse and neglect as a result of parental problem gambling.

Face the facts about
problem gambling

Consumers spend more on legal gaming in the U.S. than most other forms of entertainment combined.

Legal forms of gambling gross between 70 and 100 billion dollars every year — more than the total revenue earned by the film and music industries and all of the major amusement parks combined.

For the majority of people it's just another form of entertainment. But for problem gamblers, it's a costly and dangerous obsession.

Gambling by
the numbers

  • 15 million

    the number of Americans who display some form of problem gambling.

  • More than $30 billion

    the amount of gambling profits made by casinos in the United States.

  • $55K — $90K

    The average debt incurred by a male problem gambler in the U.S.

  • $5 billion

    the estimated annual cost to society of problem gambling according to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.

Problem gambling can devastate families

  • The average rate of divorce for problem gamblers is nearly double that of non-gamblers.

  • Studies show that up to 50 percent of spouses of problem gamblers have been abused.

  • Children of problem gamblers have been shown to have higher levels of tobacco, alcohol and drug use than do their peers.

  • Children of compulsive gamblers often suffer abuse and neglect as a result of parental problem gambling.

Problem gambling greatly increases risk of depression & suicide

  • A major depressive disorder is likely to occur in 76 percent of problem gamblers.

  • According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, one in five problem gamblers have attempted suicide. That rate is 20 times higher than for non-gamblers.

Problem gambling can
lead to crime

As problem gamblers lose money they often resort to crime in order to pay debts and bookies and to get more money to gamble:

Sixty-five percent of problem gamblers commit crimes to support their gambling habit.

Don't believe
the myths

There are many myths about gambling and problem gambling. Let's separate fact from fiction:

The myth

the truth

The Myth: I almost won. I must be due for a win.

The Truth: With gambling, what did happen has no influence on what will happen.

The Myth: If I keep gambling, I'll win back the money I've lost.

The Truth: The odds are no more in your favor on the 10th bet than they were on the first bet. Over time, the more you risk, the more you'll lose.

The Myth: If I see a certain card coming up frequently in a poker game, I should bet on it because chances are it will come up again very soon.

The Truth: There are 2.6 million possible hands in a deck of 52 cards. The chance of one card coming up again once it's already appeared is no more (or less) likely than that of any other card.

The Myth: People can generally win their money back if they play long enough.

The Truth: The more you play, the more you are likely to lose. And the fact is that gamblers lose far more money than they win.

The Myth: People lose money gambling because they don't know what they're doing. Professional gamblers play frequently and win big.

The Truth: It's true that some people make money by gambling. But it's extremely rare, and there are major differences between professional gamblers and problem gamblers. Professional gamblers bet to make money, not for the excitement or to escape their problems. They show a great amount of discipline and do not take unnecessary risks — and usually stop when they are ahead. However, many professional gamblers do become problem gamblers over time.

The Myth: You have to gamble every day to be a problem gambler.

The Truth: A problem gambler may gamble frequently or infrequently. If your gambling is affecting other areas of your life, you may have a gambling problem.

The Myth: Problem gambling is not really a problem if the gambler can afford it.

The Truth: Problem gambling isn't a financial problem, it's an emotional problem. It's about loss of control, and has nothing to do with how much you win or lose.

Are you at risk for a gambling problem?