Frequently Asked Questions

What is “problem gambling”?
The term “problem gambling” is usually used in two ways.  The term may refers to a gambling problem at any level of severity, which encompasses “pathological gambling” at the extreme end of severity.  Problem gambling may also refer to a gambling problem that has less severe effects than pathological gambling.  In the latter usage, problem gambling often progress to pathological gambling if not treated.

What is “pathological gambling”?

“Pathological/compulsive/addictive gambling” is a mental health disorder and the most severe form of problem gambling.  It is persistent, maladaptive gambling behavior that compromises, disrupts and damages personal, family or vocational pursuits leading to serious adverse consequences.  Some of the major characteristics of a pathological gambling problem include obsession with gambling, a need to bet more money and to bet more frequently, especially when chasing losses, restlessness or irritability when unable to gamble or attempting to stop, and thoughts of desperate ways to obtain money.  it is important to remember that a severe gambling problem is both diagnosable and treatable,

Who can become a problem gambler?
A problem gambler can be any age, gender, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status. There are risk factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to developing a gambling problem, such as a family history of problem gambling,  a big win early in one’s gambling experience, loneliness, boredom, peer pressure, a history of substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety.

When does gambling become a problem?
Gambling becomes a problem when the person’s life is negatively impacted in some way. These include conflict in relationships with family members, friends or co-workers, gambling debt, and physical or mental health signs of stress/distress.

Why would a person not seek help for a gambling problem?
One reason is that the individual may not believe he or she has a problem. Often family and friends are aware of the problem before the gambler. Lack of awareness of problem gambling services, feelings of shame, embarrassment, helplessness or hopelessness about the gambling problem may also discourage a person from getting help.

What type of help is available for a person with a gambling problem in Connecticut?
For someone who is concerned about his/her own gambling problem or that of someone else, there are several options for help:

  • Call the Problem Gambling Helpline, a toll free service, for confidential assistance available 24 hours a day. 1-888-789-7777

Referrals to clinicians across the state with expertise in problem gambling

Referrals to Gamblers’ Anonymous or Gam-Anon meetings

  • CCPG Online Chat is available for assistance. Click here.

Can I make someone who has a gambling problem stop gambling?
No, you cannot make someone with a serious gambling problem stop gambling. The individual has to acknowledge he or she has a problem and make the decision to seek help. However, when family or friends get help for themselves it increases the likelihood the gambler will also seek help.

Can a gambling problem be as serious a problem as alcohol or other drugs?
Yes, a gambling problem can be just as devastating to the individual, family, friends, co-workers, employers and community. A person who has a gambling problem is at a higher risk of developing a problem with alcohol or other drugs and vice versa.

How widespread is problem gambling in the United States?
Two million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4 – 8 million (2 – 4%) are estimated to be problem gamblers. In Connecticut, it is estimated that180,000 (6%) of the population meet the criteria for problem or pathological gambling.

Are there ways to gamble responsibly?
Yes, for those individuals who don’t have a gambling problem, the following steps can help keep gambling a fun and entertaining activity:

  • Don’t use money needed for daily living expenses.
  • Set a dollar limit. Identify a specific amount of money you can afford to lose and stop when that amount of money is gone.
  • Set a time limit. Arrange activities away from the gambling, such as meeting friends for dinner.
  • Don’t “chase” losses and risk losing more money.
  • Set some of the winnings aside for other purposes.
  • Remember that winning and losing are both part of gambling. If you are not ready to lose, you are not ready to gamble.
  • View gambling as a form of entertainment, where there is a greater likelihood of losing than winning and the losses are the price of the entertainment.