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Watch for the "Red Flags."

Warning signs associated with problem gambling

By the time gamblers are into the losing phase of compulsive gambling, warning signs are more pronounced. Family members and friends should attend to any of these warning signs; they are the "red flags" of a serious gambling addiction:

Preoccupation with Gambling

  • Spends excessive time or money gambling

  • Misses work and/or ignores family obligations

  • Spends free time daydreaming about and planning to gamble

  • Seems to be losing touch with friends

Inability to Meet Monthly Living Expenses

  • Repeatedly betting and losing more than the limit he/she set for self

  • Falling behind on rent/mortgage payments

  • Going without food

  • Foregoing prescription medications

  • Always short of money

Lying About Gambling Losses or Whereabouts

  • Unexplained debts or disappearances

  • Secretive about family finances

  • Denial of any problems

  • May talk about wins, but keeps losses to self

Using Up Financial Reserves

  • Dipping into pension/retirement funds

  • Cashing in life insurance policies

  • Taking out large bank loans or second mortgages

  • Repeated cash advances on multiple credit cards

  • Asking secretly to borrow money

  • Crossing the line to criminal behavior; embezzlement

Severe Mood Swings

  • "High" with wins; Devastated by losses

  • Feeling of emptiness or loss when NOT gambling

  • Restless and anxious all the time

  • Hopeless, depressed, suicidal

Know When to Fold

If you or someone you know is exhibiting one or more of these "red flag" behaviors, it's time to look for help. Names of referral services are usually listed in the yellow pages of a phone book under Gambling Addiction/Treatment.

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