Problem Gambling

What is Gambling?

Gambling is risking money or something of material value on something with an uncertain outcome in hope of winning additional money or something of material value. Anything that is risked on an uncertain outcome of winning something else is gambling.  That means, there are limitless ways of gambling.

Common ways people usually gamble (this list may not include every type of gambling):

  • 50/50 Raffle
  • Bingo
  • Blackjack
  • Dice games
  • Esports
  • Flipping coins
  • Keno
  • Loot Boxes (video games)
  • Lottery
  • Online gambling
  • Poker
  • Pull tabs
  • Roulette
  • Scratch off Lotto tickets
  • Skin gambling (video games)
  • Slot machine
  • Sports betting

What is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts or damages personal or family pursuits.  Individuals whose lives revolve around gambling hide their problems well and can function in their day-to-day life for a while.

Anyone who gambles can develop problems if they are not aware of the risks and do not gamble responsibly.  The amount of money lost or won does not determine when gambling becomes a problem.  Gambling becomes a problem when it causes a negative impact on any area of the individual’s life.

Take this Quiz:

Are you concerned that you or someone you know may have a gambling problem? Taking this quiz can alert you to some of the warning signs.

  1. Have you ever lost time from work or school due to gambling?
  2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  3. Has gambling affected your reputation?
  4. Do you ever feel remorse after gambling?
  5. Have you ever gambled to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Has gambling caused a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Do you often gamble until your last dollar is gone?
  10. Have you ever borrowed to finance your gambling?
  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance your gambling?
  12. Are you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
  13. Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?
  14. Do you gamble longer than you plan to?
  15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance your gambling?
  17. Does gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  19. Do you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least 7 of these questions.

Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Problem: These risk factors can contribute to the development of gambling problems or make it more difficult to stop.

  1. Have an early big win (leading to false expectation of future wins)
  2. Have easy access to their preferred form of gambling
  3. Hold mistaken beliefs about the odds of winning
  4. Do not take steps to monitor gambling wins and losses
  5. Have had a recent loss or change, such as divorce, job loss, retirement or death of a loved one
  6. Often feel bored or lonely, or have a history of risk-taking or impulsive behavior
  7. Have financial problems
  8. Have few interests or hobbies, or feel their lives lack direction
  9. Have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety
  10. Have been abused or traumatized
  11. Have a parent who also has (or has had) problems with gambling
  12. Have (or have had) problems with alcohol or other drugs, gambling or overspending
  13. Tie their self-esteem to gambling wins or losses.
  14. The more factors that apply, the more likely a person is to develop a gambling problem.

Suicide Risk

Rates of suicide are higher for people with a gambling problem and for their family members.  The people most likely to attempt suicide are those who also have mental health problems (like depression) or who heavily use alcohol or other drugs.  People who have threatened suicide or hurt themselves in the past are also more at risk.  If you or someone you know feels suicidal or is making plans to end their life, get help right away!

What to do if You or Someone else Feels Suicidal:

  • Call 911 or go to your local emergency department immediately
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Remove any means for ending your life (e.g., firearms, medications)
  • Talk with your doctor
  • Do not drink alcohol or take other drugs
  • Talk to someone you trust (e.g., family member, friend, spiritual advisor)

What Should I Do if I think I or Someone I Know has a Gambling Problem?

CALL: The Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline


The Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline is a toll-free, confidential, one-on-one helpline that can give you the help and support you need to overcome a gambling addiction. Trained, experienced counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

JOIN: Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous is made up of men and women who have come together to overcome gambling problems. Gamblers Anonymous offers local support groups across the country, problem gambling literature and other valuable resources. Use the Gamblers Anonymous website to find a meeting in your area, or to learn more about problem gambling.

VISIT: is the website of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. You can learn more about the organization and its credentials on the site. If gambling has made a mess of your finances, this nonprofit organization can help you get on track with counseling, planning tools, and more.

CALL or TEXT: National Problem Gambling Helpline


The Helpline Network is our national “911” safety net for problem gamblers and their loved ones. This enhanced program also includes partnering with an online peer support forum. 800.522.4700 is also secured as the national text number, so that people can now text to the same number they’ve been calling for more than 20 years. Since 2000 the National Helpline has received more than 3 million calls. Chat will be a link to a dedicated page on the NCPG site, Anyone will be able to link to the chat page.