About Problem & Compulsive Gambling
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10 Indications of Problem or
Compulsive Gambling behavior
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Frequently Asked Questions
You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills
You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance
You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
You have been remorseful after gambling.
You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
If you or someone you know answers "Yes" to any of these questions,
consider seeking assistance from a professional regarding this gambling
behavior by calling the National Problem Gambling HelpLine Network
(800.522.4700) toll free and confidential throughout the U.S.
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Oklahoma Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
meeting schedule and locations on the Gamblers
Anonymous web page
Meetings on the Gamblers Anonymous web page
(select meeting day, type and city or zip)
Oklahoma GAM-Anon meetings schedule and locations
on the Gam-Anon web page
OAPCG State-wide Self-Exclusion form
State-wide Self Exclusion Program: Participating Tribes
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What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise,
disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential
features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more
money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop,
"chasing" losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the
gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In
extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal
problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.
Isn't problem gambling really the result of irresponsible or weak-willed
No. Many people who develop problems have been viewed as responsible and
strong by those who care about them. Precipitating factors often lead to a
change in behavior, such as retirement or job-related stress.
What kind of people become problem gamblers?
Anyone who gambles can develop problems if they are not aware of the
risks and do not gamble responsibly. When gambling behavior interferes with
finances, relationships and the workplace, a serious problem already exists.
Do casinos, lotteries and other types of gambling cause problem
The cause of a gambling problem is the individual's inability to control
the gambling. This may be due in part to a person's genetic tendency to
develop addiction, their ability to cope with normal life stress and even
their social upbringing and moral attitudes about gambling. The casino or
lottery provides the opportunity for the person to gamble. It does not, in
and of itself, create the problem any more than a liquor store would create
What types of gambling cause the most problem gambling?
Again, the cause of a gambling problem is the individuals' inability to
control the gambling. Therefore, any type of gambling can become
problematic, just as an alcoholic can get drunk on any type of alcohol. But
some types of gambling have different characteristics that may exacerbate
gambling problems. While these factors are still poorly understood,
anecdotal reports indicate that one risk factor may be a fast speed of play.
In other words, the faster the wager to response time with a game, the more
likely players may be to develop problems with a particular game.
What is the responsibility of the gaming industry?
Everyone who provides gambling opportunities has a responsibility to
develop policies and programs to address underage and problem gambling
Can you be a problem gambler if you don't gamble every day?
The frequency of a person's gambling does not determine whether or not
they have a gambling problem. Even though the problem gambler may only go on
periodic gambling binges, the emotional and financial consequences will
still be evident in the gambler's life, including the effects on the family.
How much money do you have to lose before gambling becomes a problem?
The amount of money lost or won does not determine when gambling becomes
a problem. Gambling becomes a problem when it causes a negative impact on
any area of the individual's life.
How can a person be addicted to something that isn't a substance?
Although no substance is ingested, the problem gambler gets the same
effect from gambling as someone else might get from taking a tranquilizer or
having a drink. The gambling alters the person's mood and the gambler keeps
repeating the behavior attempting to achieve that same effect. But just as
tolerance develops to drugs or alcohol, the gambler finds that it takes more
and more of the gambling experience to achieve the same emotional effect as
before. This creates an increased craving for the activity and the gambler
finds they have less and less ability to resist as the craving grows in
intensity and frequency.
Are problem gamblers usually addicted to other things too?
It is generally accepted that people with one addiction are more at risk
to develop another. Some problem gamblers also find they have a problem with
alcohol or drugs. This does not, however, mean that if you have a gambling
problem you are guaranteed to become addicted to other things. Some problem
gamblers never experience any other addiction because no other substance or
activity gives them the same feeling as the gambling does. There also
appears to be evidence of family patterns regarding dependency as many
problem gamblers report one or both parents had a drinking and or gambling
How widespread is problem gambling in the U.S.?
Two million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for
pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4-8 million (2-3%) would be
considered problem gamblers; that is, they do not meet the full diagnostic
criteria for pathological gambling, but meet one of more of the criteria and
are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior. Research also
indicates that most adults who choose to gamble are able to do so
Approximately 85% of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in their lives,
60% in the past year. Some form of legalized gambling is available in 48
states plus the District of Columbia. The two without legalized gambling are
Hawaii and Utah.
Isn't problem gambling just a financial problem?
No. Problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial
consequences. If you pay all of a problem gambler's debts, the person will
still be a problem gambler. The real problem is that they have an
uncontrollable obsession with gambling.
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