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5 Telltale Signs of Gambling Addiction


What percentage of the world’s population gambles? According to Casino.org, the world’s leading independent online gaming authority, it’s over a quarter — 26%, to be precise.

For most of these people, an occasional trip to the casino or racetrack is a fun diversion. They might win a little or they might lose a little, but the purpose of gambling is simply to have fun. Yet there are also many people who hard time saying no to another hand of Texas Hold ‘Em or one more spin of the roulette wheel. As their losses mount, they may become desperate and risk just about everything in their quest to hit that elusive jackpot.

Do you suspect that your spouse, sibling, or other loved ones is getting in over their head with gambling? Look for these signs of gambling addiction before taking any action.

  1. Lying About Gambling

Of course, it’s not always possible to know when someone is lying. That said, you can often tell when a loved one is being untruthful or not telling you the full story. If you have caught them in a lie, or if there is evidence that they are misleading you, be on the lookout for other indications of a problem.

  1. Distancing Themselves

Similarly, the gambler might decide that deceiving their family members and friends is too difficult to sustain. Instead, they begin distancing themselves from loved ones, so they don’t have to worry about it at all. This might mean they decline invitations, make excuses about how busy they are, or even stop returning messages or texts.

  1. Getting Defensive

What happens when you bring up the topic of gambling or finances? Does your friend or relative leave the room or try to change the subject? Maybe they accuse you of sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Such defensive reactions are a signal that your words have hit too close to home.

  1. Shuffling Money Around

When they run out of money, gamblers will do whatever it takes to get more. This could include “robbing Peter to pay Paul” by skipping a mortgage payment or other monthly bill. It might take the form of selling or pawning their possessions, no matter how much sentimental value those items may have. Racking up credit card debt by taking cash advances is another common way for gamblers to support their habit.

  1. Committing Crimes

Some people who have a gambling addiction turn to criminal acts — stealing, committing identity theft, embezzling, or forging checks. Again, these behaviors won’t always be evident to outsiders. No one is going to brag about how much money they were able to scam off an elderly neighbor or what valuable electronics they just stole to pawn.

If you have access to your loved one’s financial records and see some unusual activity, that might be due to an underlying issue with gambling. Other times, relatives notice that a formerly prized possession like a motorcycle, guitar, piece of artwork, or valuable jewelry has gone missing. Or the gambler might turn down a social outing, claiming they can’t afford it, when you know they make a good living.

Don’t Ignore Signs of Gambling Addiction

Think that your partner, parent, child, or close friend might be struggling with gambling? The first order of business is to educate yourself by browsing articles online or checking out this resource for professional advice on addiction. Arm yourself with wisdom and helpful tips before speaking to your friend or relative, so that you can help them get their life back on track.

For more great relationship advice, check out the rest of our blog!

David Smith