1314 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT PROBLEM GAMBLING
Adapted from Chris Lobsinger’s Problem Gambling website and the National Council on
Problem Gambling's information package for the national problem gambling awareness day.
MYTH: You have to gamble everyday to be a problem gambler.
FACT: A problem gambler may gamble frequently or infrequently. The frequency is not as important as the impact of the gambling. If a person’s gambling is causing
psychological, financial, emotional, marital, legal, or other difficulties for
themselves or the people around them, then they have a gambling problem. The vast majority of my patients do not gamble daily, unless they are sports betting.
MYTH: Problem gamblers gamble at every opportunity and on any form of gambling.
FACT: Most problem gamblers have a favorite form of gambling that causes them problems. Some also engage in secondary forms of gambling that are not usually as problematic, and sometimes is actually problem free; however, the pacing of the secondary form may leave them unsatisfied and often will push them back to the problematic form of gambling. When a patient is using one form of gambling to attempt to fund a second form, like a poker player who switches to blackjack, it is my contention that their overall gambling behavior has progressed to a problem or pathological degree.
MYTH: Problem gambling is not really a problem if the gambler can afford it.
FACT: Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. If a person’s
gambling is interfering with their ability to act in accordance with their values, then
there is a problem. For example, too much time spent on gambling means less time to
spend with family, friends, and others. It can lead to relationship breakdown and loss
of important friendships.
MYTH: Problem gamblers are irresponsible people
FACT: Many problem gamblers hold, or have held, responsible community positions. In
addition, even people with a long history of responsible behavior are vulnerable to
developing a gambling problem. When a person is having a problem gambling episode, that person is unable to control their gambling and in this compromised state their actions look like irresponsible behavior.
MYTH: Children are not affected by problem gambling.
FACT: Surveys show that about 10% to 15% of American and Canadian youth have experienced gambling-related problems, and 1% to 6% of these individuals may satisfy diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling. Additionally, children of problem gamblers have been shown to be at a higher risk of developing health-threatening behaviors. This includes alcohol and drug use, problem gambling, eating disorders, depression and suicide.
MYTH: Partners of problem gamblers often drive gamblers to gamble.
FACT: Problem gamblers are skilled in finding ways to rationalize their gambling.
Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for actions, including actions
needed to overcome the gambling problem.
MYTH: Financial problems are the main reason that problem gambler’s relationships break down.
FACT: It is true that money problems play an important part in ending relationships.
However, many non-gambling partners say that the lies and lack of trust is the biggest
MYTH: Parents of problem gamblers are to blame for their children’s behavior.
FACT: Many parents of problem gamblers feel hurt and guilty about their son’s or
daughter’s gambling behavior, but they are not to blame.
MYTH: If a problem gambler builds up a debt, the important thing to do is to help them get out of the financial problem as soon as possible.
FACT: Quick fix solutions are often attractive to everyone involved and may appear to be the right thing to do. However, “bailing” the gambler out of debt may actually make
matters worse by enabling gambling problems to continue.
MYTH: Problem gambling is easy to recognize.
FACT: Problem gambling has been called the hidden addiction. It is very easy to hide as
it has few recognizable symptoms, unlike alcohol and drug use. Many problem gamblers
themselves do not recognize they have a gambling problem. Problem gamblers often engage in self-denial.
Copyright 2011 Dr. Eric Geffner's Gambling Treatment Program. All rights reserved.
1314 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024