Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Problem


Gambling is meant to be played for fun and entertainment. Like going bowling or to the movies, safe gambling can only be accomplished when you expect to spend money. After all, the chances of losing are greater than winning… they have to be, or casinos would go out of business, right?

It is important to limit yourself to what you can comfortably afford. Following these tips to lower your risk and gambling responsibly will help to reduce your risk of developing a gambling problem.

In addition to the practicing safe gambling, you should be aware of the below risk factors – they can increase or accelerate the development of a gambling problem, or make it more difficult to stop:

  • Scoring a “big win” (a month’s salary, or more)
  • Being in a tight financial situation
  • Trying to win money to pay bills
  • Feeling a need to win back lost money (“chasing”)
  • Having easy access to a preferred form of gambling
  • Starting to gamble as a child or teenager (younger gamblers are at greater risk)
  • Having few interests or hobbies besides gambling
  • Holding mistaken beliefs about the odds of winning
  • Not monitoring gambling wins and losses
  • Having an impulsive personality
  • Tying self-esteem to gambling wins or losses
  • Family history of mental illness, substance abuse or gambling problems
  • Using gambling as a way to escape problems
  • Having been abused or traumatized
  • Thinking there is a system or a special skill to consistently “beat the house”
  • Frequently experiencing boredom, depression, anxiety or feeling directionless in life
  • Recently have experienced a life alteration; such as:
    • Retirement
    • Job loss
    • Divorce or the loss of someone closet1

Whether or not you, or someone you love, exhibit any of the risk factors above, it just makes sense to gamble responsibly. To take steps to reduce your chances of developing a gambling problem, check out these tips for “safer gambling.”

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