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Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction can have devastating effects on the individual, family, friends and the community.
Problem Gambling

Gambling Addiction or Problem Gambling is known as the “hidden addiction” because there are no visible signs. Unlike alcohol or drug addiction, you can’t visibly see the effects of someone’s gambling. For example, if someone has been drinking, you may smell alcohol, or they may be slurring their speech. Because of the lack of visibility, often those suffering from a gambling addiction can hide it longer than someone with an alcohol or drug problem. Usually, gambling addiction is discovered when there is a loss of accessibility to money and/or negative actions occur.


Gambling is defined as the act of risking something of value (money, food, clothes, electronics, etc.) on a game of chance (bingo, lottery, dice, slot machine, sports, etc.) for the desired result.

Types of Gambling

There are many types of gambling opportunities in New York State. You must be 18 to gamble, including buying lottery tickets or buying/selling raffle tickets. If a casino sells alcohol, you must be 21 to enter the casino floor.

Some of the most popular types of gambling are:

  • Casinos
  • Lottery/Scratch-off tickets
  • Sports Betting
  • Horse Betting
  • Bingo
  • Raffles/Office Pool

Warning Signs

Most adults who gamble do it for as a recreational, fun activity without any negative consequences. For some, it can become a problem just like alcohol or drugs.

Some warning signs that gambling might be a problem include:

  • Thinking often about gambling
  • Covering up/lying about gambling behaviors
  • Missing time with friends and loved ones to gamble
  • Gambling to escape problems or negative feelings
  • Gambling more money than planned or can afford
  • Trying unsuccessfully to cut back or stop gambling


Youth Gambling Prevention

Talking to youth about the risks and consequences of engaging in underage gambling activities can make a difference in the choices they make. Parents and caregivers, educators and community members can take steps to prevent youth gambling behaviors. 

  • Encourage youth to be involved in positive social activities such as clubs, sports, and other positive community outlets
  • Be a positive role model
  • Talk early about the potential for gambling to be a problem
  • Avoid giving scratch off tickets as gifts and/or encouraging underage gambling
  • Monitor youth’s activities and friends
  • Establish rules and enforce them
Adult Gambling Prevention 

Most adults can gamble responsibly. Having a plan before you gamble can help reduce the potential consequences. Consider some of these tips:

  • Set the amount of money and time you will spend gambling before you go
  • Maintain a balance in your recreational activities, gamble for entertainment/fun in addition to other activities
  • Take frequent breaks when gambling
  • Limit or exclude drinking alcohol while you are gambling

Get Help

Contact your local Problem Gambling Resource Center to receive support, information and/or be connected with a problem gambling provider in your community.

Call the free, confidential NYS HOPELINE - 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) for help, and referrals to treatment.

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