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For more information, please contact Mike Kafes, mkafes@som.umaryland.edu or call 667-214-2120.

What is problem gambling?

A psychiatric disorder. Problem Gambling includes all gambling that compromises, disrupts or damages personal, family or vocational pursuits.  The essential features are:
  • Increasing preoccupation;
  • A need to bet more money more frequently;
  • Restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop;
  • “Chasing” losses; and
  • Loss of control in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.
In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.

How can a person be addicted to something that isn’t a substance?

Although no substance is ingested, the problem gambler gets the same effect from gambling as someone else might get from taking a tranquilizer or having a drink. Gambling alters the person’s mood. But just as tolerance develops to drugs or alcohol, the gambler finds that it takes more and more of the gambling experience to achieve the desired emotional effect. This creates increased craving for the activity and less and less ability to resist as these cravings grow in intensity and frequency.

  • Research indicates that most adults who choose to gamble are able to do so responsibly.
  • 2 million (1%) of U.S. adults are conservatively estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year.
  • Another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered problem gamblers; that is, they meet 3-4 of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior.
  • Approximately 90% of Maryland adults gamble (Maryland Problem Gambling Prevalence Survey 2011).
  • 3.4% of adults in Maryland, or over 150,000 people, are problem or pathological gamblers.
  • Secretive about his/her gambling habits, and defensive when confronted.
  • Gambling to escape problems.
  • “Chasing” losses with more gambling.
  • Lying to family and others about the extent of gambling.
  • Committing crimes to finance gambling.
  • Jeopardizing or losing relationships, jobs, education or career opportunities because of gambling.
  • Relying on others to bail him or her out to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.

Gambling at your Fingertips – Everywhere!

Remote gambling is any form of gambling in which a person participates by the use of remote communication and players do not need to be face to face.  It can be conducted from the safety of a gambler’s own home, car, airplane, street corner, café, school room, board room, or any place a remote communication device is operable.

Remote gambling includes:

  • Internet sites
  • Mobile devices for texting and web access
  • Cell phone, telephone
  • Interactive TV

Remote gambling provides:

  • Gratification: No waiting, instant
  • Anticipation: Removed gambling, instant action, adrenaline rush
  • Companion: Always there when needed
  • Fantasy: Takes you to it, change persona
  • Expression: In a private world, more satisfying than real life
  • Ego: Boosts for fragile/bruised ego
  • Freedom: Lacking boundaries and constraints.  Limit only by extent cash/credit
  • Chasing: Access to chase losses is as close as the nearest computer
  • A Chance: A Chance to lose financial resources, friends, jobs, family, freedom, etc.