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Play Responsibly, South Carolina

SC Gambling Helpline 1-877-452-5155

Problem Gambling Warning Signs

“I’ll get it back.” “I can feel it.” “This could be the one.” “Just one more time.” “When I break even I’ll stop.” “I’m only down 10.”

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

The spectrum of problem gambling is broad in its severity, ranging from adults who have a problem to those with compulsive to even pathological gambling habits. “Problem gambling” refers to any participation in gambling to the extent that there are negative consequences to the gambler or to his or her family. The term “compulsive gambling” and “pathological gambling” are defined as impulse disorders where a person has an uncontrollable urge to gamble. The American Psychiatric Association considers pathological gambling a mental disorder and has created diagnostic criteria to apply to a gambler’s symptoms. In each case, there are warning signs you should be aware of:

  • Preoccupied with playing and unable to stop
  • Bragging about playing, exaggerating wins and minimizing losses
  • Restless and irritable when not playing
  • Playing to “feel better”
  • Borrowing money to play
  • Lying to hide time spent playing or unpaid debts
  • Frequent unexplained absences
  • Chasing losses (playing to win back losses)
  • Losing work time because of playing
  • Doing something illegal to get money to play
  • Jeopardizing a significant relationship or job by playing

If you are experiencing any of these behaviors, help is available. Call the S.C. Gambling Helpline toll-free at 1-877-452-5155. The call is toll-free and confidential.

The number of adults in the U.S. who meet the criteria for pathological gambling in a given year is two million or 1 percent. An additional 2 percent to 3 percent are estimated to be problem gamblers according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Do I Have a Gambling Problem?

Gamblers Anonymous® utilizes the following quiz to help an individual decide if he or she has a gambling problem:

  • Did you ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  • Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  • Did gambling affect your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  • Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  • Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  • After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  • After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  • Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
  • Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  • Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  • Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
  • Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
  • Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
  • Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  • Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  • Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  • Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  • Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  • Have you ever considered self-destruction as a result of your gambling?

According to Gamblers Anonymous®, most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions. Answering yes to more than one question is a red flag.

To learn more, please call the SC Gambling Helpline toll-free at 1-877-452-5155.

Are You Living with a Problem Gambler?

Gam-Anon® provides the following questions to determine if you are living with a problem gambler.

  • Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  • Is the person in question often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?
  • Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  • Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  • Does the person in question faithfully promise that he or she will stop gambling, beg, plead for another chance, yet gamble again and again?
  • Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended to, until the last dollar is gone?
  • Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?
  • Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?
  • Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
  • Has this person's reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?
  • Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of the family may go without food and clothing if you do not?
  • Do you search this person's clothing or go through his or her wallet when the opportunity presents itself or otherwise check on his/her activities?
  • Does the person in question hide his or her money?
  • Have you noticed a personality change in the gambler as his or her gambling progresses?
  • Does the person in question consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  • Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibilities for his or her gambling on to you?
  • Do you attempt to anticipate this person's moods or try to control his or her life?
  • Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  • Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?
  • Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

For specific advice on how to approach a problem gambler, call the S.C. Gambling Helpline toll-free 1-877-452-5155 to talk with a certified counselor. All calls are toll-free and confidential.


Information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional assessment or assistance.

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