Frequently Asked Questions

What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling is any type of gambling that disrupts other areas of your life, or the lives of the people around you. This includes school or work, relationships with family or friends, or your own physical and mental health. Problem gamblers often need to bet more and more to feel the same thrill, and continue to gamble despite serious negative consequences. Learn more about what problem gambling is.
Is someone who gambles a lot a problem gambler?
Not necessarily. Many people who gamble frequently simply enjoy it as entertainment, recognize that they are likely to lose, and only bet what they can afford. Problem gamblers, on the other hand, cannot control their gambling and will continue to gamble no matter how much they win or lose.
Isn't problem gambling really just a financial problem?
No. Problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences. The amount of money lost or won does not determine when gambling becomes a problem.
How can I tell if someone is a problem gambler?
There are a number of warning signs to look for. Problem gamblers will often talk constantly about gambling, tell only of wins and not losses, lie about when and how much they gamble, and gamble until they have lost all of their money. See more warning signs, or take the online self-test to see if you are at risk for problem gambling.
How many people in the United States are problem gamblers?
Research shows that 4 to 5 percent of Americans are problem gamblers.
What is the difference between a problem gambler and a professional gambler?
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 become problem gamblers over time.6
Do casinos, lotteries and other types of gambling cause problem gambling?
The cause of a gambling problem is the individual's inability to control the gambling. The casino or lottery provides the opportunity for the person to gamble. But it does not create the problem any more than a liquor store would create alcoholism.
What are the potential consequences of problem gambling?
Financial ruin; increased risk of anxiety, depression and suicide; increased risk of drug and alcohol dependence; divorce; and loss of employment are just a few of the possible negative impacts of problem gambling. See what you have to lose.
Can children or teenagers develop gambling problems?
Yes. Research shows that a majority of young people have gambled before their 18th birthday, and that children may be more likely to develop problems related to gambling than adults.
Can problem gamblers be helped?
Yes. To get help for a gambling problem, call Pennsylvania's Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-877-565-2112 or find a problem gambling treatment provider near you.
Is it true that problem gamblers have a higher risk of depression and suicide?
Yes. A major depressive disorder is likely to occur in 76 percent of problem gamblers.1 And 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.1,4 See more facts about problem gambling.
Can someone overcome problem gambling on their own?
While some people can solve their gambling problems on their own, most need the support of family and friends, and a professional counselor or support group. Overcoming a gambling problem can be extremely difficult and require a lot of time, effort and support.
How can I get a friend or family member to get help for a gambling problem?
The problem gambler must decide to make a change and seek help — you can't do it for them. The best you can do is get informed about problem gambling, express concern and try to get the person to address the issue honestly. When you do confront someone about problem gambling, stay calm and avoid lecturing or accusing the person as this will likely only make them more defensive. View tips for friends and family of problem gamblers.