Responsible Gambling Resources

Problematic gambling practices and gambling addiction can lead to poor mental and emotional health, destructive behavior, self-loathing and financial ruin. Here we focus on how to play responsibly and recognize signs of problem gambling. We also provide resources and assistance for those struggling with gambling addiction.

On this page you will find the following information:

What is Problem Gambling vs. Gambling Addiction?

Troublesome gambling can take many forms. It’s important to note that there are key differences between problem gambling and gambling addiction. While both are serious issues, they are two terms often used interchangeably. They actually refer to different levels of severity in problem gambling behavior.

Below are some of the key differences between problem gambling and full-blown gambling addiction:

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a diagnosable disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. It is generally more severe and requires intensive treatment like medication or rehabilitation.

Gambling addiction is:

  • A diagnosable disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

  • Diagnosed based on specific criteria or presence of symptoms over time.

  • Requires more intensive treatment such as rehab or medication.

  • Characterized by a compulsive need to gamble that is difficult to control.

  • Often associated with other mental health disorders like substance abuse or mood disorders.

Problem Gambling

Problem gambling is precarious gambling activity that can lead to gambling addiction if not addressed. This can be done through therapy, counselling or self-help.

Problem gambling is:

  • Not a diagnosable disorder, but still problematic.

  • Diagnosed based on the presence of one or more negative consequences related to gambling.

  • Treatable through therapy, counselling or self-help groups.

  • Characterized by occasional problematic gambling behavior that leads to negative consequences — not a compulsion.

  • Not necessarily related to co-occurring disorders and can arise in people with no prior history of mental health problems.

The key takeaway is that both problem gambling and gambling addiction can have serious consequences. Seeking help and support is important for anyone who is struggling with gambling-related issues. If you think you have a problem, you should look for help regardless of whether or not you meet the diagnostic criteria for gambling addiction or problem gambling.

Recognizing the Signs of Gambling Addiction

It’s important to recognize the signs of problem gambling and gambling addiction before they become an issue. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or behaviors, but here are some of the more common red flags:

Sign of Gambling AddictionWhat to Look For
Preoccupation with gamblingConstant thoughts about gambling or planning your next session.
Difficulty controlling gamblingTrying to quit or cut back unsuccessfully.
Chasing lossesContinuing to gamble to win back money you’ve lost, even if it means risking more.
Hiding gamblingConcealing your gambling activity from others, or lying about time/money spent.
Borrowing moneyAsking friends/family for funds to play or repay debt.
Increased bettingNeeding to wager more to get the same level of excitement.
Mood changesMood swings, euphoria, and depression are common.
Neglecting responsibilitiesFailing to perform basic activities at work, home, or school.
Withdrawal symptomsExperiencing irritability, restlessness or anxiety when you’re not gambling.
Gambling despite negative consequencesContinuing to gamble even if it causes personal problems.

Causes of Gambling Addiction

In order to address problem gambling, you must first understand what causes it in the first place. How do gambling addictions form? How do problematic gamblers slip into unhealthy behaviors? Here are some of the roots of gambling addiction and problem gambling:

1. Boredom

Many addictions start from boredom. Perhaps you have an abundance of down time with nothing better to do than bet on sports or play casino games. If you’re gambling too often to fill time, it’s important to cultivate other hobbies or pastimes.

2. Relaxation

Individuals often start gambling for fun or relaxation, which can become a problem over time. It might be a great way to unwind when work or responsibilities are finished, or if you have downtime throughout the day. If you’re not careful, however, your relaxing activity can turn into a stressful one.

3. Seeking Excitement

This is closely related to boredom. Sometimes, people are just looking for a rush, or something to break up the monotony of the day. Gambling is exciting and can provide a rush of adrenaline for many, but problem gamblers may find themselves seeking this rush too often.

4. Loneliness or a Lack of Community

Like many hobbies and recreational activities, gambling is a place where players can experience community and a social outlet with others who share the same interests. If you’re lonely or isolated, the need to be a part of a larger community can be innocent at first, but may eventually lead to problem gambling.

5. Escapism

This cause tends to be more associated with gambling addiction. Some individuals use gambling as a way to distract themselves from other issues in their life or cope with trauma. Using gambling as an escape and not dealing with your issues head-on can result in much larger problems down the road.

6. Making Extra Money or Paying Off Debts

Some people are motivated to gamble because they feel it is a good way to generate some extra income. They may feel they need it to help pay off bills or debts. Gambling activity should always be done for fun, and should never be done with the expectation of a windfall to pay off your bills. Gambling for this purpose this can lead to problematic behavior.

Problem Gambling Supports & Resources

If you thing you have a gambling problem or addiction, or if you have a loved one who might be suffering, there are many helpful resources and supports you can turn to for assistance.

Some organizations operate at the national level, but individual states have their own supports and resources as well. Reputable online casinos like the ones we review will always have links and pages dedicated to problem gambling and gambling addiction supports, so be sure to check the footer of your favorite casino’s website for more.

National & International Organizations

There are many national and international organizations that can help with problem gambling or gambling addiction. Here are just a few:

National Council on Problem Gambling

The National Council on Problem Gambling is an organization that was founded in 1972 and advocates for problem gamblers and their families. They are neither for or against legalized gambling, but provide programs and services to those affected. Most notably they operate the National Problem Gambling Helpline and the annual National Conference on Problem Gambling. They also distribute information on problem gambling and gambling addiction treatment, research and recovery.

North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL)

Founded in 1971, the NASPL is an active association representing 53 lottery organizations in North America. They help train lottery staff, set industry standards, initiate research and development and, of course, have resources on responsible gambling supports.

Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous is a collective of individuals who gather to share their experiences with each other in order to solve their common gambling problem and to help others recover from addiction. There is no fee or dues required to join this group and most have state-specific chapters. Find a meeting near you.

State-Specific Organizations

Each state has its own resources and supports in place for problem gambling and gambling addiction. A few examples are listed below.


The California Council on Problem Gambling
Call: 800-GAMBLER (426-2537)

The California Department of Public Health
Call: 800-GAMBLER (426-2537)
Text: SUPPORT to 53342

Gamblers Anonymous California
Find a meeting near you
California Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)


The Texas Council on Compulsive Gambling
Call: 800-GAMBLER
Text: 800GAM

Gamblers Anonymous Texas
Find a meeting near you
Texas Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)


The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling
Email: [email protected]
Call: 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848)
Text: 321-978-0555 (24/7)
Chat:  (24/7)

Gamblers Anonymous Florida
Find a meeting near you
Florida Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)


The Oklahoma Association on Problem Gambling & Gaming
Email: [email protected]
Call: 800-522-4700

Gamblers Anonymous Oklahoma
Find a meeting near you
Texas Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)

Find more state-specific responsible gambling resources through our legal online gambling hub:

How to Gamble Responsibly

Understanding how to gamble responsibly starts with four steps:

  1. Understanding signs of problem gambling

  2. Setting appropriate time and budget limits

  3. Practicing good bankroll management

  4. Playing at reputable, well-reviewed casinos

Here are the best ways to set yourself up for success:

Know the Signs of Gambling Addiction or Problem Gambling

Knowing the signs and causes of gambling addiction is the first step to responsible gambling. If you’re gambling to pay off debts or bills, using it as a way to escape from your problems, or turn to it when you’re bored or lonely, you may want to think about steering your attention in another direction.

Set Limits

Setting limits on the amount of time and money you spend at a casino or sports betting site is one of the best things you can do to avoid gambling issues in the future. This involves a bit of willpower, but knowing when to walk away is an important step to take for your mental health and overall well-being. In order to promote responsible gambling, many online casinos will allow players to self-exclude. This means they allow you to pause or set limits on your account at any time.

Time Limits

When you’re having fun gambling online, it’s easy to lose track of time. Setting a time limit is a great way to keep your gambling activities in check. Do this yourself by setting a timer, or limit yourself to playing on certain days of the week.

Budget Limits

When you give yourself a budget to gamble with, it’s easier to know when to fold ’em. Set a deposit limit for online betting accounts, or set a spending limit for each session. Avoid playing with money you don’t have and never borrow money from someone to fund your gambling activity.

Practice Good Bankroll Management

The size of your bankroll — how much money you can afford to gamble — depends on your personal financial situation, so we would never tell you how much to deposit. That being said, you need to ensure the amount is within your comfort level and never more than you can afford to lose. Be realistic.

Once you’ve determined your bankroll amount, then you can determine what percentage of your bankroll you can wager on any given game or sporting event.

  • Beginners should keep bets small and consistent

  • Conservative players may look at 1–2% of their bankroll for a single bet

  • More confident players may find themselves betting more

Reviewing and reevaluating your bankroll after each session is also important to know where you stand. Adjust your bet sizes accordingly and you’ll be able to play more for longer without worrying.

Only Play at Reputable Casinos

Playing at reputable casinos like the ones we recommend is an incredibly important strategy to avoid problem gambling. Legitimate casinos will have responsible gambling supports in place and links to relevant resources. Some will have self-exclusion mechanisms built in, like deposit or time limits. Others have incredible customer service you can turn to 24/7.

There are many shady casino sites out there waiting to take money from vulnerable people, so always make sure the property you choose is trustworthy. Read about how we rate online casinos to familiarize yourself with factors that matter.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Make a time and budget plan before you start gambling

  • Limit alcohol or drug use while you’re playing

  • Take regular breaks during your sessions

  • Avoid using credit cards so as not to spend money you don’t already have

  • Learn to control your emotions

Tips for Quitting or Restricting Your Play

The best way to quit gambling is to cut your activity off completely, but that’s often easier said than done. If you need extra help with your willpower, here are some things you can do to restrict your play or to stop gambling altogether:

1. Talk to Someone

Being open and honest about your gambling activities is one of the most important things you can do when you’re looking to quit. It can be difficult opening up to someone about your problem gambling, but seeking help from a real person is a great step to take.

2. Join a Support Group

If your gambling problem is a symptom of loneliness and social isolation, joining a support group of like-minded people can be extremely helpful. Depending on your preference, you can meet in person or seek out an online group. Gamblers Anonymous is specifically tailored to the needs of problem gamblers, and follows a similar 12-step approach to the more familiar Alcoholics Anonymous.

3. Understand it is an Addiction

Like cigarettes or alcohol, compulsive gambling is an addiction. When you understand that addictions are triggered by cravings, you can start to regain control. Cravings can be intense, but they do have a beginning, middle, and end. By studying your cravings and their cycles, you can more effectively postpone your gambling activity.

4. Avoid Temptation

Cravings are often triggered by tempting situations. When you’re looking to reduce your gambling activities or quit altogether, it’s best to avoid the people, places and situations in which you’re most likely to gamble. Talking to someone about what triggers you can help a helpful way to manage temptation.

5. Find Alternatives to Gambling

If you gamble because you’re bored or have no other outlet to replace it with, then finding an alternative activity to gambling can be an extremely powerful tool. By replacing negative behaviors with more positive ones you can help shift your focus. Health professionals recommend physical activity, meditation, spending time with loved ones who don’t gamble, or finding a meaningful hobby.

6. Self-Exclusion

When all else fails, self-exclusion may be the route you need to take to curb your problem gambling. This is a commitment you need to make with yourself and a casino operator to restrict your gambling for a chosen amount of time. You can also do this by setting limits or exclusions through your credit card company.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking to put an end to your problem gambling or gambling addiction, or a loved one of someone who is suffering, we encourage you to look into these additional resources.


Phone Numbers and Hotlines

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • National Council on Problem Gambling Hotline: 1-800-522-4700
  • Gamcare (UK): 0808 8020 133
  • Gambling Help Online (AU): 1800 858 858
  • Center for Addiction and Mental Health (Canada): 1-866-531-2600


You can also check out these additional reading materials and resources for more information on problem gambling and gambling addiction, as well as responsible gambling.

  • What Does Responsible Gambling Look Like?
  • What Does “Responsible Gambling” Mean?
  • 7 Ideas of How to Spend the Money You Didn’t Lose Casino Gambling
  • Gambling Mistakes That Lead to Devastating Casino Losses