Top 5 Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction


Gambling addiction is often called hidden addiction, and rightly so. It’s like a secret problem, hiding itself even from people close to the person. In fact, unlike substance use disorders that eventually project outright symptoms, gambling addictions are often like the silent killer.

However, it is indeed a growing concern at quite a rapid rate.

According to reports, the gambling industry is booming, set to jump from $540.27 billion in 2023 to $580.36 billion in 2024! Trends like its increasing popularity among all genders and the popularity of e-sports betting are just adding fuel to the fire.

So, it’s important to spot the warning signs early. Recognizing these signs can help us reach out and support those struggling with gambling addiction before it gets worse. On that note, here are the Top 5 Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction.

What are the prominent warning signs of gambling addiction?

Here are some apparent warning signs of gambling addiction that you must look out for. Take a look.

signs of gambling addiction

1. Loss of control

It’s critical to recognize the symptoms of gambling addiction if you or someone you know is experiencing them.
Loss of control is one of the most obvious signs.

As a counselor working closely with addicts, I can understand how challenging it can be to stop gambling once the addiction takes hold. Initially, you may try to limit your gambling or cut back, but eventually, it becomes increasingly challenging to resist the urge to gamble. Despite losing big time, gambling addicts just can’t seem to quit. They keep chasing those losses, hoping to hit the jackpot and make it all right again.

But guess what? It rarely works out that way. This overpowering sense of hopelessness and powerlessness can have various detrimental effects on your life, including:

  • Overspending,
  • Disregarding obligations and relationships,
  • Having difficulty affording basic needs
  • Lying to loved ones about your gambling tendencies.
  • Legal troubles
  • Poor physical health

2. Obsession with gambling

stop gambling

Another common sign of gambling addiction is preoccupation with gambling. Well, obsessing with compulsive gambling is indeed a sign of trouble.

Early on, you might find yourself talking and thinking non-stop about gambling or planning your next session, neglecting hobbies you once loved.

Remember the excitement of your past wins? You might constantly replay those moments, chasing that same high. If you are always glued to gambling websites or apps, or if gambling is all you can think about, it’s time to take a step back.

Do you find yourself researching gambling strategies or just gambling for the sake of it? These are all red flags signaling unhealthy gambling addictions.

Moreover, some of the common signs of obsession with gambling habit include:

  • Constantly talking or thinking about gambling
  • Ignoring previous hobbies or interests
  • Reliving past gambling experiences
  • Obsessing over gambling activity, websites, or apps
  • Gambling without caring about the type or Consequences

3. Neglecting responsibilities

When gambling disorder takes over, everyday life can spiral into chaos. Neglecting responsibilities becomes a telltale sign of a gambling problem.

This might mean skipping work or school, leading to declining performance job or academic trouble. Besides, everyday activities lose their charm. Personal hygiene may decline, and living conditions can deteriorate.

A growing gambling behavior further leads to unkempt living space, and struggles with daily tasks become apparent.

Priorities take a massive shift; people may prefer gambling over other crucial facets of life, such as employment, family, and personal connections, as gambling problems worsen.

This may result in a disregard for obligations, such as a failure to meet job deadlines, a late payment on a bill, or a neglect of family responsibilities. The effects of this behaviour on a person’s personal and professional life may be severe.

quit addiction

4. Tolerance and withdrawal

Tolerance and withdrawal are key warning signs of gambling addiction. Tolerance refers to the need to gamble more frequently or with greater sums of money to achieve the same level of excitement or pleasure. Withdrawal, on the other hand, refers to the physical or emotional discomfort that occurs when an individual stops gambling or is unable to gamble.

Together, tolerance and withdrawal are clear indicators that gambling behaviors have altered the addicts’ brain chemistry and that they have developed a dependence on gambling. 

Moreover, while withdrawal is commonly linked with substance abuse, it can also manifest in behavioral addictions like gambling disorder. This happens because gambling triggers the brain’s reward center, leading to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

Consequently, the brain becomes reliant on this dopamine release, causing unpleasant symptoms when gambling ceases. That said, common side effects of withdrawal include:

  • Intense urges to gamble
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Mood swings include irritability, restlessness, irritability, bursts of anger, and more.
  • Physical discomfort like fatigue or difficulty breathing
  • Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts (in extreme cases).

5. Borrowing or Stealing Money

Borrowing or stealing money is a prominent indicator of addictive behaviour. Initially, addicts may seek financial aid from close friends and family, but as the addiction escalates, they may resort to borrowing from acquaintances or colleagues.

In severe cases, the gambling self may lead addicts to turn to illegal means to fuel their gambling habits. This could involve stealing money or valuables from loved ones or committing various crimes such as fraud. That is, when the problem gambling escalates, it shows signs like:

  • Pathological gamblers borrow money from friends and family to finance their addiction.
  • As the addiction worsens, they may seek funds from less close contacts or even resort to borrowing from colleagues.
  • In extreme situations, addicts may engage in illegal activities such as theft or fraud to sustain their gambling habit, leading to gambling debts.

Did you know, according to shocking statistics from Gamblers Anonymous, it was found that a high percentage of pathological gamblers resort to illegal acts for gambling money, with theft being a common method.

What Is the Difference Between Gambling Problem and Gambling Addiction?

Well, understanding the difference between problem gambling and gambling addiction is like knowing the different levels of a game. All gambling addicts are problem gamblers, but not all problem gamblers become addicts.

Confused? Let me explain.

Think of it like this: gambling addiction is like a big problem, while problem gambling is more about having unhealthy habits with gambling. Problem gambling isn’t classified as a mental health condition.

However, According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), gambling addiction is seen as a kind of impulse-control disorder. This helps us see that there’s a range of gambling-related issues, and it’s important to spot them early to get the right help.

Final Words

The warning symptoms of gambling addiction, such as obsession with gaming, chasing losses, ignoring duties, tolerance, and withdrawal, should be recognized.

Keep in mind that addiction is treatable and that people may conquer it and recover control of their lives with the correct assistance and tools.



Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

  • Current Version
    Feb 28, 2024

    Edited by

    Divya Dev Singh

    Updated by

    Deepak Sengar

  • Jan 26, 2023

    Written by

    Deeksha Dev Singh

    Edited by

    Deepak Sengar

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Deeksha Dev Singh

Deeksha is a masterful content creator at BlockerX, where her exceptional storytelling skills bring to life the intricacies of parental control and content blocking. Her ability to blend thorough research with engaging narrative makes her articles both informative and compelling. As an aspiring Advocate, Deeksha infuses her passion for writing into every piece, making complex subjects accessible and relatable.