The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) would like to take this opportunity to share how the professionals consider and diagnose the differing stages of gambling. Problem gambling and compulsive gambling are synonyms for the clinical term, “disordered gambling”, which is classified as a Substance-Related and Addictive Disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (DSM V).1 It is typically viewed and treated as an addiction. If any of the below resonates with you, Your One Sure Thing is reaching out for support by calling 888-ADMIT-IT.
Disordered gambling is defined by the APA as a persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as indicated by the individual exhibiting four (or more) of the following in a 12-month period and the behavior is not better explained by a manic episode:
- Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
- Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
- Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
- Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
- Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
- After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses).
- Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.2
Types of gamblers:
- Low-Risk Gambler:
- Social Gambler: Gambles for fun and entertainment, can control how much they spend by setting a limit and sticking to it and able to walk away with their winnings.
- Serious Social Gambler: Gambles regularly with intensity while still under control, could stop but would miss it.
- At-Risk gambler: Answers yes to one or two of the criteria listed above, commonly called a Relief or Escape Gambler who could quickly become a compulsive gambler if any traumatic event or life-changing circumstances occur.
- Problem Gambler: Answers yes to three or four of the criteria listed above, commonly called a Situational or Binge Gambler. Where gambling is no longer fun it has started to cause problems.
- Compulsive/Disordered Gambler: answers yes to five or more criteria listed above.
If you or someone you know might be experiencing any of these signs and need to talk with someone to find help and resources, call or text 888-ADMIT-IT. This Florida Helpline is free, confidential, and multilingual, available 24/7 to support those struggling with compulsive gambling.
- “2021–2022 24-Hour Problem Gambling Annual HelpLine Report.” Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, February 2023.