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Frequently Asked Questions

  • A: 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.

  • A: A good place to start is the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers you the ability to talk, chat or text with a problem gambling counselor. 1-888-532-3500.

  • A: 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 he or she has an uncontrollable obsession with gambling.

  • A: 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.

  • A: The cause of a gambling problem is the individual's inability to control the gambling. This may be due in part to a genetic tendency to develop addiction, one's ability to cope with normal life stress and even one's 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 an alcoholic.

  • A: The frequency of a person's gambling does not determine whether or not he or she has a gambling problem. Even though the problem gambler may only go on periodic gambling binges, the emotional and financial consequences will still be evident.

  • A: 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.

  • A: 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 problem.

  • A: Two million U.S. adults (1% of the population) are estimated to meet the criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4 million to 8 million (2% - 3%) would be considered problem gamblers: They do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling, but they meet one or 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 responsibly.