When is gambling a problem?

International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors

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Parents | When is gambling a problem?

Gambling becomes a problem when

an individual continues to play excessively despite experiencing negative consequences. Preoccupation and loss of control over gambling behaviour are signs of problem gambling.

Loss of control may be expressed by:
  • Spending more money than intended;
  • Playing for longer periods of time than planned;
  • Wanting to gamble when knowing one should be doing other things;
  • Not being able to stop thinking about gambling.

Warning signs*
  • Unexplained absences from school/work
  • Decreasing grades, declining interest and performance in schoolwork
  • Lying
  • Borrowing/stealing money
  • Preoccupation with gambling activities
  • Displaying large amounts of money or other unaccountable material possessions
  • Changes in personality
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

*It is important to note that many of these warning signs are also found in children experiencing non-gambling related problems. Talk with your child.

What should I do if I suspect my child is experiencing gambling problems?

Talk to him or her about your concerns. Do not leave money where it is easily accessible to your child. Inform yourself about the risk signs for gambling and possible resources

In the U.S., call the National Council on Problem Gambling 24-hour confidential hotline at 1-800-522-4700.

In Quebéc, you can also call the Ordre des psychologues du Québec at 514-738-1223 or 1-800-561-1223 to find a private clinician, or the Gambling Help and Referral Help-Line at 1-800-461-0140 or 514-527-0140.