Gambling addiction is an ‘impulse control problem’ that any person can suffer from regardless of age, sex or socio economic profile. An increasing number of players are presenting to the GPA with a gambling problem. Here we outline some of the signs to look out for.

“I’ve been gambling for the last few years. It’s an enjoyable pastime. I have a bit of craic with the lads on bets we make. There’s no harm in it. We used to play a game of cards on the team bus but instead now we put on a few bets on the phone. I have it under control. I like the fact that I can play anywhere and nobody knows. I’m a bit worried about the credit card bill but that won’t be in for a while yet.”

— Fictional Example; Part 1

Possible Signs of Problem Gambling

Answering yes to some of these questions does not necessarily make you a problem gambler but may indicate a problem.

  • Do you sometimes spend more money and time on gambling than you can afford to?
  • Do you find it hard to stop or manage your gambling?
  • Do you have arguments with family or friends about money and gambling?
  • Do you always think or talk about gambling?
  • Do you lie about gambling or hide it from other people?
  • Do you chase losses or gamble to get out of financial trouble?
  • Do you gamble until all of your money is gone?
  • Do you borrow money, sell possessions or do not pay bills in order to pay for gambling?
  • Do you need to gamble with larger amounts of money or for a longer time to get the same feeling of excitement or buzz?
  • Do you neglect work, school, family, personal needs or household responsibilities because of gambling?
  • Do you feel anxious, worried, guilty, depressed or irritable because of gambling?
  • Do you consider or have considered an illegal act to finance your gambling?
  • Do you gamble to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  • Do you have difficulty sleeping because of gambling?

Side Effects of Gambling Addiction: 

  • Unaccounted blocks of time
  • Mood swings
  • Neglecting personal needs or responsibilities
  • Anxiety about finances
  • Depression
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Missing work or college due to gambling
  • Arguing with spouse, partner, other family members, or friends due to gambling
  • Experiencing behavioural or personality changes when watching or listening to sports
  • Having difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Isolation

“The credit card bill arrived last week and I have no idea how to pay it, I just shredded it and put it in the bin. I owe a few people money too and can’t borrow off my family again. I don’t know how I’ve managed to build up that amount of debt. I’ve had a few loses but didn’t think it was that bad. I’m feeling really anxious now and don’t know how I’m going to talk to someone about it. I’m awake all night thinking about it and the only thing that makes me feel better is having another bet. I know I need to talk to someone but I didn’t want the whole town knowing about it. My game is off now too and I’m not training right.” 

“I called the GPA today and they put me in touch with a counsellor. They have recommended that I do a course in a treatment centre. The counsellor gave me advice on telling my family. My parents and brother were so relieved when I told them, they had seen the change in me and were worried that I was very depressed and might do something drastic. It’s been the hardest thing to admit to but I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I know the road is going to be hard but I’m glad I’m getting the help I need now and I feel more positive about the future.”

— Fictional Example; Part 2