Debt problems in gambling addiction

What are the 5 common signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction? Find out how to be aware of potential problems and help someone overcome a compulsive gambling problem.

Gambling addiction may also be referred to as problem gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder. It can be difficult for someone to admit that they are having problems with their gambling. Many people may not even realise they have developed a gambling disorder, as it can happen so gradually.

We discuss how to spot some of the most common symptoms, causes and signs and how Ara can help you or a loved one with their gambling.

So, what are the signs of gambling addiction?

5 clues that someone has a gambling problem

Spending a lot of time gambling

1. Spending a lot of time gambling

This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to acknowledge. The person may spend a lot of their spare time:

  • Gambling
  • talking about gambling, especially big wins
  • being preoccupied with gambling and less able to focus on other things
  • constantly trying to find more ways and funds to gamble

Gambling includes, but is not limited to, betting on sports and events, scratchcards, lottery tickets, gaming, some forms of trading and more. With the huge rise in technology use and the spread of smartphones, gambling is much easier to hide. It’s no longer a case of having to physically leave the home; websites, apps and games can be accessed 24/7, every day of the year.

Our article “What is Gambling?” gives a more detailed overview of what exactly counts as gambling.

2. Spending less time with friends and family

Spending less time with friends and family

This sign is easier to spot; the person may become withdrawn, unwilling to meet up and difficult to get in contact with. This may negatively impact relationships. Some partners report that they initially thought the gambler was having an affair because they became so secretive.

The lack of trust this behaviour causes can lead to more problems at home. Don’t forget that Ara offers free support to anyone affected by another person’s gambling. This includes partners, family members, friends and colleagues.

3. Lying, hiding and stealing, denial

Lying and denial about having a gambling problem

Due to the nature of gambling, money is lost. Some people try to hide these losses, by lying and covering up how much they’ve really lost. These lies can cause turmoil in relationships, yet gamblers may still be in denial of the true extent of their problems.

In some cases, they may even steal money to gamble or sell possessions, take out loans and get into debts. Which leads us to number 4:

4. Financial difficulties and debts

Financial difficulties and debts

Financial issues may include:

  • Borrowing money to cover major living expenses eg. rent, mortgage
  • Having to gamble larger amounts to feel the same level of excitement, leading to larger losses
  • Falling behind on bills
  • Not being able to buy basics such as food and heating despite being paid a living wage
  • Excuses and lies about why money can’t be paid back

 5. Returning to recoup losses

Trying to recoup gambling losses by gambling more

In desperation, many people experiencing disordered gambling will try to recoup their losses by gambling some more. This turns into a destructive cycle of loss, exacerbating financial difficulties further. Some may try to control their gambling but find themselves unable to stop. That’s why seeking help is so important; you’re a lot more likely to stop with professional support.

We hope this list has been helpful to outline what are the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction. This is not an exclusive list of the signs and symptoms of gambling disorder. However, it is a good place to start when you are trying to work out whether someone has a problem. But what do you do next? We recommend getting in touch for free, professional advice.

Get in touch with Ara

Ara’s confidential 1:1 counselling with trained experts are here to help. We ask you to complete a short assessment and you will then be referred to telephone or in-person sessions. These can be arranged during the day and in the evenings to fit around your work schedule.

Our most important message is people suffering gambling harms are not alone.

There are an estimated 30,000 people with experiencing disordered gambling in Wales alone.

This doesn’t include those at risk of developing harm, or the average of 7 affected others who also experience harms from another’s gambling. We provide services in the regions of Wales, Wiltshire, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Somerset.

Please get in touch via our Get Support page or give us a call on 0330 1340 286

What support is on offer?

We have a range of interventions on offer, but our most important one is to listen.

  • Welsh and English language counsellors and materials are available
  • Self-exclusion tools and toolkits that help people re-evaluate their relationship with gambling

Emergency help

Are you struggling with gambling outside of office hours and need someone to talk to straight away?

The National Gambling Helpline operates 24 hours a day on 0808 8020 133

This is run by our partners at GamCare.