Gambling can be defined as any activity involving risking something of value in hopes of winning more where the outcome is at least partly due to chance. There are many types of gambling including VLT’s (video lottery terminals/machines), internet gambling, bingo, casino games, lottery tickets, raffles, horse racing, sports betting, and others.

Problem gambling is gambling which has a negative effect on any part of a person’s life. It may adversely affect an individual’s psychological, physical, social, financial, legal, or spiritual experience. Gambling opportunities are widespread and widely accepted. Many people do not understand the risks or signs that gambling is becoming a problem.
People with gambling problems may minimize or lie about their gambling and where the money has gone which makes the problem difficult to identify. Following is a list of clues which may indicate someone has developed a gambling problem.

Emotional Clues

  • A family member withdraws from family and friends.
  • They seem anxious or disinterested; has difficulty paying attention.
  • Sometimes feels good about themselves when winning or can be irritable when losing.
  • Complains of restlessness and boredom
  • They have mood swings and outbursts of anger
  • They are depressed and/or suicidal

Money Clues

  • Money is missing from the house or bank accounts.
  • The family member is secretive and bad tempered about money. They hide bank and credit card statements.
  • The person borrows money from family/friends or through bank loans and credit cards.
  • Bill payments are being missed and creditors are calling.
  • RRSP’s and insurance plans are cashed in or payments are not made.
  • Valuables disappear and reappear.
  • The person is always short of money.
  • The person juggles money to gamble or pay debts.

Time Clues

  • The person is often late for work or school.
  • The person is gone for lengthy, unexplained periods of time.

Behavioural Clues

The person:

  • Changes patterns of sleep, eating, or sex.
  • Stops doing things they used to enjoy.
  • Doesn’t take care of themselves or ignores work, school, or family tasks.
  • Makes excuses for failing to do things they promised to do.
  • Doesn’t take proper care of their children.
  • Uses alcohol or other drugs more often.
  • Misses family events.
  • Seems obsessed with gambling and talks about it all the time.
  • Changes friends.
  • Lies about their gambling.
  • Doesn’t want to spend money on anything.
  • Cheats or steals for gambling money.
  • Has money conflicts with other people.
  • Has legal problems as a result of gambling.

Gambling Problems can result in serious family problems. Some relationships will not survive while others may actually become stronger. Recovering from Problem Gambling takes time, effort, and patience to work through all of the issues. Counselling can help you consider your options and decide what will work best for you and your family.