Compulsive Gambling

This purpose of this article is to provide general information on issues related to gambling, but is not meant to replace consultation with a mental health professional. If you are concerned about compulsive gambling in your own life, or that of another, please feel free to contact our office to set up an appointment (263-2987).

What is compulsive gambling?

For most people, gambling is fun and exciting, but simply a form of entertainment. For others, gambling becomes an addiction known as compulsive gambling. For the compulsive gambler, the urge to gamble tends to grow stronger over time, while the negative results of the gambling grow worse. Once addicted, the compulsive gambler will risk finances, health, home and family in order to keep gambling. Compulsive gambling has been called the “hidden addiction” because even though gambling can be psychologically devastating, there are no obvious physical signs of addiction. Many gamblers need help in recognizing the signs of compulsive gambling. Often the spouse, friends and employer of the compulsive gambler recognize the problems and seek help before the gambler does.

How can you tell if someone may have a gambling problem?

Gambling becomes a problem when a person:

  • Loses time from work, school or family life in order to gamble
  • Thinks continually of gambling and ways to get gambling money
  • Gambles until all the money is gone
  • Gambles to win back money lost through gambling
  • Lies to hide gambling activity
  • Relies on others to get out of debt
  • Commits forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzles for gambling money
  • Fails time after time to reduce or stop gambling

Any one of these indicates a problem with gambling. Fortunately, compulsive gambling is treatable.


The above information was adapted from the University of Massachusetts Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. We wish to thank them for permission to use this material.