Signs of Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction isn't difficult to determine. Here are the symptoms and signs of gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction isn't diffcult to determine. Here are the symptoms and signs of addiction to gambling.

What are the Signs of Gambling Addiction?

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the following criteria for pathological gambling: preoccupation, tolerance, withdrawal, escape, chasing, lying, loss of control, illegal acts, risk of significant relationship, and bailout.


One sure sign of gambling addiction is preoccupation. Preoccupation occurs when the gambler constantly thinks about gambling. He or she may frequently recall past gambling experiences. The gambler's life is now centered on gambling and how to acquire money with which to gamble. A preoccupied gambler may duck out of certain obligations and spend money designated for other purposes just to fulfill the gratification gained by gambling.


In the same way that a drug abuser can become tolerant of the substance that he or she is taking, one of the keys signs of a gambling addiction is the gambler becoming tolerant of gambling. The gambler becomes tolerant when he or she needs more and more money to achieve the desired sensation, just as a cocaine addict may need more and more cocaine.

Withdrawal: Another Sign of Gambling Addiction

Halting gambling may lead to withdrawal. This withdrawal may not come in a form as physical as the body's withdrawal from a substance, but a gambler suffering from withdrawal may experience agitation and irritability when he or she tries to gamble less or quit gambling altogether.


Pathological gamblers may also use gambling to escape from the world. They may be attempting to run away from their problems or to combat negative feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression.


The gambling addict may also become a chaser of losses. In other words, when the gambler loses money, he or she returns the next day to try to gain it back or get even with the house.


You may have seen this sign of gambling addiction. Gambling addiction can lead to lying to both family members and friends about how the gambler is getting the money to gamble and the amount of time he or she is spending gambling.

Loss of Control

If you or a loved one has tried over and over again to stop gambling, this may be a sign that you have lost control to your gambling addiction and need to seek help. (more information about gambling addiction help)

Illegal Acts

Many compulsive gamblers become so in need of funds for their addiction that they resort to stealing—through larceny, fraud, or embezzlement—in order to continue their habits.

Risk of Significant Relationships

Another of the gambling addiction symptoms is how the gambler's relationships are affected, including jobs, personal relationships, educational opportunities, and so forth.

Final Gambling Addiction Sign: Bailout

A final symptom of gambling addiction is relying on others for monetary support for financial problems created by gambling.


  • DSM IV - American Psychiatric Association

APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2021, December 15). Signs of Gambling Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Last Updated: December 29, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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