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Problem Gambling and Domestic Violence

For most, gambling can be a fun, leisure activity. But for some, gambling can get out of control; it can become problematic and addictive. It can become harmful.

Problem gambling is not only harmful to the individual gambler (loss of financial stability, relationships, job, etc.), but harmful to the family unit.  This harm may manifest itself into real, psychology and/or physical danger.

Problem gambling is an addictive disorder characterized by thoughts and behaviors that are increasingly centered around gambling. Problem gamblers may frequently become restless, irritable and violent when they cannot gamble, when they are confronted by loved ones about their gambling behavior, or when they attempt to quit and are unsuccessful.

Research suggests that gambling related violence does occur, and often manifests in domestic violence incidents, as gamblers may take out their anger over gambling losses on their partners. There is also limited, but growing, international evidence that problem gambling is consistently  associated with intimate partner violence (IPV), as well as violence that extends beyond intimate partners into the broader family (Dowling, Suomi, et al., 2016).


If you are someone you know is becoming restless and irritable due to gambling behaviors, reach out for help today:

  • Remove yourself from any situation where you feel imminent danger.
  • Call Maryland 211 if there is an immediate danger for harm to others.
  • Have the conversation with a Peer Recovery Support Specialist. They can provide support and refer you to the resources you need.
  • Make an appointment to speak to a trained counselor at no cost to you.
  • Nearly 25% of pathological gamblers reported engaging in spousal abuse

  • Over 15% of pathological gamblers reported engaging in child abuse

  • Children of problem gamblers are two-three times more likely to be abused by a parent than their peers.

  • Wives or intimate partners of problem gamblers are 10.5 times more likely to visit an emergency room as a result of being physically assaulted, compared to wives or intimate partners of problem drinkers.

Call or Text 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537)

It is never too late to take control of your life. There is hope. We can help.