When Is Gambling a Problem?

Learn to spot the warning signs of
a gambling problem before it starts to impact your life.

What is problem gambling?

Gambling becomes a problem when you have trouble stopping. When you spend more than you can afford. And when it begins to negatively impact other areas of your life, like your physical or mental health, school or work performance, finances, and/or your relationships.

People with gambling problems can max out their credit cards, borrow money, and neglect family, work or school obligations.

They may deny that they have a problem, continue to chase their losses, and neglect their family, friends, work, and even themselves.

How to tell if you have a problem

Having mixed feelings, like frustration and anxiety, when you think about gambling is a warning sign. Ignoring your feelings only makes them worse, and they will eventually affect not just you, but your family and friends, too.

Paying attention to how gambling makes you feel and knowing the warning signs before you develop a problem are valuable tools. If you’re still not sure if you or someone you know are showing signs of a gambling problem, take the Gambling Self-Assessment Quiz below.

Take the Gambling Self-Assessment Quiz

It’s not always obvious how gambling might negatively impact your life.
Find out how your gambling habits measure up.

Take The Quiz

Know the warning signs of a gambling problem

  • Feeling guilty, anxious, frustrated or worried about your gambling
  • Thinking or talking about gambling more than usual
  • Gambling to win back money you’ve lost or thinking that a “big win” is right around the corner
  • Experiencing extreme highs from wins and extreme lows from losses
  • Finding it difficult to control or stop gambling, or feeling irritable when you try to stop
  • Feeling a sense of emptiness or loss when you’re not gambling
  • Borrowing money, selling things, committing (or considering committing) criminal acts to obtain money for gambling
  • Having increased debt, unpaid bills, or other financial troubles because of your gambling
  • Gambling to escape personal problems or to relieve feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, or loneliness
  • Gambling instead of attending family or other social functions or neglecting family or household responsibilities because of gambling


Financial Troubles

Financial troubles are one of the potentially more visible signs of a problem with gambling. The financial costs of a problem with gambling are significant and can include financial insecurity, reduced disposable income, job loss, loss of home and/or business, increased debt and potential bankruptcy.

Below are a few of the financial warning signs that can be associated with problem gambling:

  • Overdue and unpaid bills
  • Increased spending on credit cards/significant debt increase
  • Secretive about money problems and/or account balance(s) to friends and family
  • Frequently short/lacking money despite sufficient income
  • Repeatedly borrowing money from friends and/or family
  • Money disappearing from savings account, home, or wallets without explanation
  • Receiving calls from collection agencies

Confidential financial help is available for those in need.

Find financial help

Find Gambling Support Services near you

Are you or someone you know experiencing issues from gambling?
Discover the network of treatment centres available. 

Find help resources

Young People and Gambling

Are you a student thinking you might have a gambling problem? Learn more about young people and gambling.


Get help for a gambling problem

There’s a treatment centre ready, willing and able to help you.

Find Local Help

Want to take a break from gambling?

Find out how OLG’s Self-Exclusion program, My PlayBreak, can help.

Learn about My PlayBreak

Get help for a loved one

Get tips, advice and resources to help a loved one with a gambling problem.

Help a Loved One