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​What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling (sometimes referred to as “gambling addiction” or “gambling disorder”) is gambling behavior that is damaging to a person or their family, often disrupting their daily life and career. Anyone who gambles can be at-risk for developing a gambling problem. Gambling disorder is a recognized mental health diagnosis.

Some warning signs of a gambling problem are:

  • Thinking about gambling all the time.
  • Feeling the need to bet more money and more often.
  • Going back to try to win your money back (“chasing losses”).
  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to stop or cut down.
  • Gambling despite negative consequences.
  • In extreme cases, problem gambling can cause bankruptcy, legal problems, job loss, family harms, and thinking about suicide.

How Widespread is Problem Gambling in Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Human Services' Statewide Gambling and Problem Gambling Needs Assessment found that:
  • 3.8% of adult Illinoisans (approximately 383,000 people) are considered to have a gambling problem
  • An additional 7.7% (approximately 761,000 people) are at risk for developing a gambling problem

The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that the annual national social cost of problem gambling in the U.S. is $7 billion. These costs include job loss, bankruptcy, gambling-related healthcare spending and other consequences.

Help is available

  • Call: 1-800-GAMBLER 
  • Text: 800GAM 
  • Chat: