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Last Update: Jun. 4, 2024

Problem Gambling


For most people, gambling is a form of entertainment – a fun activity that can be enjoyed without harmful effects. But for some, it’s not just a game – it’s a serious problem that continues well after the fun and excitement has faded away. Just as some people can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is possible for a person to become enthralled with an irresistible urge to gamble.

This is called problem gambling – an emotional illness that often remains hidden until the consequences of repeated gambling begin to affect the emotional and financial well-being of the gambling and his or her family. As the strain of these consequences increases, the problem gambler finds that he or she must seek relief through even more gambling. The result is a escalating financial and emotional deterioration which can destroy both the gambler and his or her family.

Problem gambling can affect men and women of any race or religion, social or financial status, or from any age bracket. It is not possible to predict who may develop a gambling problem, but once a identified, the problem can be treated successfully.

Problem Gambling Signs

Problem gambling is not easily detected. The person with a gambling problem will often go to great lengths to maintain a normal appearance, while covering up the consequences of their gambling addiction. Some warning signs that may indicate that a person may be suffering from a gambling problem include:

  • Losing time from work, school, or family due to gambling
  • Repeated failed attempts to stop or control the gambling
  • Borrowing money to gamble or pay gambling debts
  • Gambling to escape worry or trouble
  • Neglecting the care of one’s self or family in order to gamble
  • Lying about the amount of time and money spent on gambling
  • Gambling more money in an attempt to win back loses (chasing loses)
  • Selling, pawning, or stealing personal possessions to get money to gamble
  • Feelings of hopelessness, depression, or suicide as a result of gambling

Young People And Gambling

For some, gambling may begin with friendly wagering on sports, penny ante arcade games, or the “gift” of a lottery ticket from an adult family member – but underage gambling is not a harmless activity, and people of all ages can develop a gambling problem. With that being said, it is illegal for people under the age of 18 [in most countries] to participate in real money gambling activities.

Independent studies of high school students from several states suggest that the prevalence of problem gambling may be higher among adolescents than adults. For the safety and well-being of our young community, the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling encourages adults to never leave children unattended in or near a gaming area, never allow anyone under 18 to participate in any type of gaming activity, and to educate your children about the law and the potential harmful consequences of underage gambling.


GamStop is a free service that lets you put controls in place to help restrict your online gambling activities. Sign up for the service and you will be prevented from using gambling websites and apps run by hundreds of online gambling sites, for a period of your choosing. Unfortunately, GamStop is only available to consumers who reside within the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) only.

After you sign up, you’ll receive a single email summarizing all the details of your exclusion from gambling. It can take up to 24 hours for your self-exclusion to become effective. After this period, you will be excluded from gambling with online gambling companies licensed in Great Britain.

Consumers can elect to be excluded for a period of 6 months, 1 year or 5 years (depending on the option chosen). Once the minimum duration period has elapsed, the self-exclusion will remain in force until you have returned to GamStop to ask for it to be removed and have gone through the relevant process.

Once you are registered it’s important to keep your details up to date by telling GamStop if you move house, change your last name, or get a new email address. It is your responsibility to ensure that the details gambling companies hold about you are correct and up to date.

A request to self-exclude on GamStop will not automatically remove you from receiving gambling marketing. You can unsubscribe from any emails you receive from gambling companies, and unfollow gambling sites on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter in order to reduce the marketing.

Similarly, a request to self-exclude on GamStop does not trigger an automatic return of withdraw-able funds from those companies that you hold accounts with. You will need to contact the company directly. GamStop is not responsible for returning funds.

GamStop is operated by a not for profit organization called The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited.

Reality Check

Reality Check is a tool required at many regulated online gambling sites that reminds you how long it has been since your gaming session began. The reminder will appear on screen while you are on the site, but does not force you to end your gambling session. Once being prompted with a Reality Check, players have the options to continue playing, view their transaction history, or log out.

The Reality Check timer will begin when you place your first wager. The reminder will appear once the time has expired and will continue to appear at the requested time intervals. In most online casinos, Reality Check can be changed at any time by going to My Account > Gambling Controls > Reality Checks, on your desktop PC or Mobile device, and choosing the setting that you believe is appropriate to help you keep control of the time you spend gaming. In most cases, you must log out of your account and log back in for any new Reality Check setting to take effect.


GamCare is the leading provider of information, advice, support and free counseling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. Using the latest technology, GamCare advisers take calls over the phone as well as through a secure chat system – all integrated and managed for the highest quality service. Their service is confidential and is available 8am – Midnight, seven days a week. The company also hosts an online forum, daily chatrooms, and provides free face-to-face counseling for anyone experiencing difficulty through their own gambling or that of a family member.

GamCare also provides training and materials to the gambling industry to improve understanding of social responsibility and player protection, as well as in-depth programs to provide customer service professionals with vital insights on how to recognize the signs of problem gambling behavior and provide practical advice for responsible gambling managers to initiate interaction with players to achieve a positive outcome.

GamCare also produces posters and leaflets and stickers for every gaming machine in Great Britain, publicizing the National Gambling Helpline and NetLine. GamCare is a registered independent charity. Their Trustees come from varied professional backgrounds, providing skills and experience to make sure the charity runs efficiently. You can learn more about GamCare here.

Problem Gambling Helpline

If you or someone you know is experiencing the fear, frustration, or anger due to a gambling problem, you are not alone. By reaching out to people who understand, you can find the help you need – without fear of judgement or further pain. The problem gambling hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer your questions and offer confidential advice.

Caring and knowledgable counselors will provide information on available treatment and support resources in your area for the the gambler and those affected by the gambler’s problem. This hotline can be reached by dialing: 1-800-522-4700 – It’s that simple. When the fun stops, help is just a phone call away.