Most people who gamble do so without it causing them any problems in their lives. A few of those who gamble find it changes their lives for the worse. How can you tell if this is happening to you or someone close to you?
There are signs you can watch for to see if you have a problem gambling. There are also risk factors that may make it more likely that you could develop a problem with gambling.
Gambling is something people may do once in a while, as a form of recreation. They buy a lottery ticket, bet a few dollars on a horse or sporting event, or drop a few dollars into a video lottery terminal (VLT). When the draw or the game is over, they go on to other non-gambling activities.
Gambling is a problem when it becomes more and more important and starts to affect other areas of your life. Gambling problems can range from minor to quite serious.
It could be as simple as gambling a little more often than you meant to or spending a little more money than you wanted.
Gambling, when it's a problem, may cause problems once in a while—for example, it's harder to pay bills or rent some months or it may get worse. It can affect your relationships with family and friends in negative ways, cause more and more debt, and even lead to stealing or other illegal activity.
You may have a gambling problem if you do any of the following:
There's no way of knowing who will develop a gambling problem. Anyone who gambles can develop a gambling problem, but many don't.
There are many factors that affect your risk of developing a gambling problem. These may include:
How many of these can you identify with? Your chances of developing a gambling problem depend on the number of factors in your life and the ways these factors work together.
Keep a balance in your life. Make careful decisions about how you spend your time, money, and energy.
Some ideas that may help:
These questions can help as you start to think about your gambling. Consider learning more about how gambling can affect your life or have your gambling assessed by calling the
1. In the past 12 months have you:
___ played bingo
___ bet on a sporting event
___ bought lottery tickets
___ played games of skill for money (for example, cards)
___ gambled in a casino
___ played slot machines or video lottery terminals (VLTs or poker machines)
___ gambled at the track (include off-track betting as well)
___ took part in any other form of gambling
2. In the past 12 months have you spent more money than you meant to on any of the activities in question 1?
___ Yes ___ No
3. In the past 12 months has your involvement in the activities in question 1caused money problems for you or your family?
4. In the past 12 months has anyone told you they were concerned about your gambling?
5. In the past 12 months have you been worried about your gambling?
If you checked several of the activities in #1 or answered "Yes" to questions 2 to 5, you may have a gambling problem.
For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the Addiction Help Line. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Current as of: June 15, 2022
Author: Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.