Not all people who gamble too much are the same. People with gambling problems are found in all age groups, income groups, cultures and jobs. Some people develop gambling problems suddenly, others over many years. There are many reasons why a gambling problem may develop. For example, some people develop problems when they try to win back money they have lost. Others have many life stresses that make gambling a welcome relief.

Low-Risk Gambling & Problem Gambling

Not all gambling is a problem. Gambling may be low-risk or it may be harmful. Low-risk gambling means you:

  • Limit how much time and money you spend gambling
  • Accept your losses, and don’t try to win them back
  • Enjoy winning, but know it happened by chance
  • Balance gambling with other fun activities
  • Don’t gamble to earn money or pay debts
  • Don’t gamble when drinking alcohol or using other drugs
  • Never borrow money or use personal investments or family savings to gamble
  • Don’t gamble to escape from your problems or feelings
  • Don’t hurt your job, health, finances, reputation or family through your gambling

What Is Problem Gambling?

Harmful gambling means you have started to:

  • Lie about your gambling or keep it a secret
  • Lose track of time and play for longer than you meant to
  • Feel depressed or angry after gambling
  • Spend more money than you planned, or more than you can afford
  • Ignore work and family responsibilities because of gambling
  • Borrow money or use household money to gamble
  • “Chase your losses” to try to win back your money
  • Believe that gambling will pay off in the end
  • See gambling as a very important thing in your life
  • Use gambling to cope with your problems or to avoid things
  • Have conflicts with family and friends over gambling
  • Ignore your physical and emotional health because of gambling