The legalization of sports betting continues to transform gambling from a niche activity to the new American pastime. Accordingly, the next generation of players can be found frequenting casinos and gambling online at rates never seen before.
With millions of people firing up slots, table games, poker rooms, and sportsbooks from the comfort of home, casino gambling has never been easier. Unfortunately, this influx of new blood will inevitably lead to an increase in compulsive gambling.
To make sure you’re staying on the right track, stay on the lookout for the following excuses problem gamblers tend to make when times are tough.
1 – Hyping Up and Holding Onto Big Winning Days to Emphasize the Positive
No matter which form of gambling a player is partial to—from the slots to the lotto, from blackjack to baccarat, and everything in between—most will fixate on winning sessions.
Whenever we’re asked about our last trip to the casino, there’s a standard answer at the ready:
“I killed it man, just crushed the game. Got lucky here and there, sure, but I was really playing well. Started with like $200 and cashed out for $1,400, so I’d say it was a successful day.”
And naturally, all of that is an accurate recap. At one point, on one particular day, you did indeed turn a $200 stake into $1,400 while bedeviling the dealer in blackjack. The fact that the story is, in fact, actually true makes it that much easier to reel off when asked.
Gamblers take great pride in their winning sessions, owing to the indisputable and inherent edge held over players by the dreaded house. When the odds are always stacked against you, managing to beat them and boost your bankroll always offers something to hang your hat on.
Every slot player can instantly recall their highest jackpot payout—the game’s title, the bet size, which symbols showed up, and crucially, the exact dollar amount collected. Poker pros keep a running list of their top tournament cashes, while craps aficionados know the length of their longest consecutive roll by heart.
Prioritizing major wins is a trait shared by almost all gamblers, so it isn’t necessarily a sign of problematic play in and of itself.
With that said, consistently emphasizing winning sessions while avoiding any mention of subsequent losses should be considered a big red flag.
2 – Downplaying and Denying Big Losing Days to Deemphasize the Negative
The main reason compulsive gamblers like to hype up their wins is simple—profits are prettier than losses.
By continually pointing to those rare days when the cards cooperated and everything went well, some gamblers hope to steer their loved ones away from all the losing days in between. And eventually, when the winning sessions begin to dry up, drawing attention to wins slowly turns into a pattern of downplaying and denying losses.
One cardinal rule among gamblers says that anybody claiming to have broken even almost assuredly lost a little dough. Similarly, when a gambler tells you that they “only lost a little,” you can bet your bottom dollar that they already did just that.
Nonetheless, if you can’t face up to losses in front of the people you care about most, it’s time to reassess your gambling behavior.
3 – Bringing Up Other Gamblers Who Bet Bigger, Play Worse, and Lose Much More
One of my best buddies, who shall remain nameless on these pages, is a proficient sports betting and video poker specialist.
When the games involve skill and strategy, he’s more than capable of cleaning the casino’s clock with alarming consistency. But despite this success in the skill games, my friend is a stone-cold sucker for craps.
For years now, I’ve watched in vain as he ran up sweet profits playing Deuces Wild, only to give it all back and some “chasing heaters” at the dice table. That’s his business though; he can afford the “win some, lose more” lifestyle.
Even so, I can’t help but think about all the times this pal has tried to justify his own craps losses by pointing to an even worse case. According to my friend, his downswings of $500 or so a session pale in comparison to some fool who routinely loses $5,000 a night.
This third-party player might be the worst craps fanatic on the planet for all I care. The fact is, I wouldn’t know a thing about him unless my own friend was uncomfortable owning up to his own losses.
4 – Lying About Trips to the Casino and How Money Lost Was “Really” Spent
When gambling takes a turn for the worse, many problem players start going to great lengths to hide their habit.
A weekend day spent spinning the slots turns into, “My boss called me in for an overtime shift at work.” An unexpected $500 cash advance on the credit card becomes, “I got a flat tire but didn’t have my debit card on me.”
If you think this is the case and you are addicted to gambling, then check our help page to get the help you need.
5 – Claiming That the Losses Are Affordable Based on a High Salary or Savings
Albert Einstein famously observed that everything in the known universe is balanced by the theory of relativity.
Wealthy problem gamblers are seldom elite thinkers like Einstein, but boy do they espouse the notion that “it’s all relative” when the need arises:
“I work hard for my money, so who cares how I spend it?”
For whatever reason, people who reside on the higher end of the income spectrum seem to believe that they’re immune to problem gambling. With their bills paid, a savings account earning interest, and investments growing by the day, many casino regulars mistakenly think they’ll always have more money to spend.
And as a result, they happily point to bank balances or fat wallets to explain away any money lost while gambling.
Of course, as Einstein discovered, everything really is relative. That means a gambler earning $250,000 a year is likely to be found at the $25 bet blackjack tables, losing the same relative sums as their $50,000/year counterpart bleeding chips in the $5 game.
6 – Blaming Work, Friends, and Family for the Constant Need to “Blow Off Steam”
Whenever a gambler attributes their play to anger or frustration, you know trouble is on the horizon.
People with alcoholism might be prone to claiming that they have to “hit the bar after a long day” every day. Those struggling with drug addiction may feel the need to have “just one more hit” to calm down.
In all actuality, an excursion to the casino can indeed be an effective way to relax and achieve a sense of distance from life’s daily dose of stress. Fun with friends, challenging games, looking to get lucky, and a steady stream of complimentary cocktails… what’s not to love?
That may be true for most casual players, but problem gamblers are all too happy to blame basic frustrations for their “need” to visit a casino.
7 – Denying They Have a Gambling Problem to Begin With
Last, but certainly not least, it’s that infamous river in Egypt.
Denial is the darkest force behind addictive tendencies, as the brain simply refuses to recognize facts which are plain to see for everyone else. While others whisper about “getting them some help,” the problem gambler doesn’t even deign to acknowledge who needs help or why they need it.
When the words “I don’t have a gambling problem though,” spill readily from your lips, take a look in the mirror and try saying it with a straight face.
Our Final Thoughts
Nobody likes to talk about problem gambling, especially in this newfound era of legalization and legitimacy. That doesn’t make the issue disappear though—far from it. By avoiding discussions pertaining to compulsive play, the gambling community does its most vulnerable members a tremendous disservice.
With so many new players entering the arena in 2021 and beyond, every gambler owes it to themselves to pay close attention when the warning signs above start making regular appearances.
And when they do, please don’t be afraid to seek assistance through verifiably effective programs like Gamblers Anonymous (GA).