Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

Problem Gambling

The DSHS Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery is responsible for planning, implementing, and quality oversight for state-funded prevention and treatment services for problem gambling.  An advisory committee also oversees services.

To find problem gambling treatment providers, see our directory of Certified Agencies or call the Washington Recovery Help Line: 1-866-789-1511.

To schedule a presentation about the signs and consequences of problem gambling for youth and adults, contact the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling at (360) 352-6133 or www.evergreencpg.org.


Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1031 provides funding for prevention and treatment services from Washington’s Lottery, the Washington Horse Racing Commission and recreational gaming licensees. These commissions pay a tax of 0.013% from their gross revenues.  Several Washington Tribal governments also voluntarily fund treatment services.  In fiscal year 2006, the amount contributed for treatment was $552,000.

Gambler’s Anonymous has a list of 20 questions that they ask. Here are the questions. Just answer “yes” or “no” to each one.

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

If the answer is “yes” to at least seven of these questions, Gambler’s Anonymous would consider the person answering a compulsive gambler.

To determine if you are living with someone who might be a compulsive gambler take the assessment questionnaire (pdf).

All Washington residents, both the gambler and family members, are eligible and can access treatment by calling the 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-547-6133.  If you have funds or insurance that will cover treatment, Helpline staff will refer you to a private, experienced counselor.

If you do not have funds or insurance, you may qualify for state- funded treatment.  You are eligible for treatment if:

· You need treatment for problem or pathological gambling.
· A family member seeks treatment because he or she is affected by problem or pathological gambling.
· You are unable to afford treatment.
· You have a strong desire to get help.

See our directory of state-funded and certified agencies

There are different types of gamblers. Most gamblers, about 96% of the people who gamble, are social gamblers. They are able to:

· Decide on a loss limit ahead of time and stick to it
· Never borrow money to gamble
· Set a time limit
· Take frequent breaks
· Balance gambling with other activities
· Don’t gamble when highly stressed, depressed or troubled in some other way
· Only gamble with money set aside for entertainment, never with money for everyday expenses.

Some social gamblers are very serious about their gambling. They go to bingo every Thursday night, and they let little interfere with bingo (or poker) night. These gamblers are called serious social gamblers. They are like other people who might be serious about working out or playing tennis or golf. These gamblers gamble regularly, but they are able to quit without showing signs of withdrawal or irritability.

Some gamblers are called at-risk gamblers. This term means different things to different people. It can refer to people who score 1 or 2 on a gambling screen called the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS).  It can mean people who fit certain characteristics. For instance, studies show that adolescent boys who cut school or smoke cigarettes have a higher incidence of gambling behaviors. An adolescent boy who smokes and cuts school could then be called “at risk” for gambling problems because others with similar characteristics gamble at a higher rate than that of the general population.

The term, problem gambler, is used to describe someone who scores 3-4 on the South Oaks Gambling Screen. In a less scientific way, it is also used to describe anyone who is exhibiting any problems because of gambling. Warning signs of a gambling problem.

A person might be considered a compulsive gambler if he or she can answer affirmatively to seven of the Twenty Questions from Gambler’s Anonymous. (The 20 questions are listed above, in the section entitled, How do I know if someone has a gambling problem. The word, compulsion, according to Webster’s New College Dictionary, means “An irresistible impulse to act irrationally.” The term, compulsive gambler, implies that the gambler is unable to (cannot resist the impulse) to control his or her gambling.

Pathological gambling is a term that is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is found among other Impulse Control Disorders, not otherwise specified, 312.31. There is a list of ten criteria (pdf), of which a person must admit to five, to be diagnosed as a pathological gambler.

 

There are different types of gamblers. Most gamblers, about 96% of the people who gamble, are social gamblers. They are able to:

· Decide on a loss limit ahead of time and stick to it
· Never borrow money to gamble
· Set a time limit
· Take frequent breaks
· Balance gambling with other activities
· Don’t gamble when highly stressed, depressed or troubled in some other way
· Only gamble with money set aside for entertainment, never with money for everyday expenses.

Some social gamblers are very serious about their gambling. They go to bingo every Thursday night, and they let little interfere with bingo (or poker) night. These gamblers are called serious social gamblers. They are like other people who might be serious about working out or playing tennis or golf. These gamblers gamble regularly, but they are able to quit without showing signs of withdrawal or irritability.

Some gamblers are called at-risk gamblers. This term means different things to different people. It can refer to people who score 1 or 2 on a gambling screen called the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS).  It can mean people who fit certain characteristics. For instance, studies show that adolescent boys who cut school or smoke cigarettes have a higher incidence of gambling behaviors. An adolescent boy who smokes and cuts school could then be called “at risk” for gambling problems because others with similar characteristics gamble at a higher rate than that of the general population.

The term, problem gambler, is used to describe someone who scores 3-4 on the South Oaks Gambling Screen. In a less scientific way, it is also used to describe anyone who is exhibiting any problems because of gambling. Warning signs of a gambling problem.

A person might be considered a compulsive gambler if he or she can answer affirmatively to seven of the Twenty Questions from Gambler’s Anonymous. (The 20 questions are listed above, in the section entitled, How do I know if someone has a gambling problem. The word, compulsion, according to Webster’s New College Dictionary, means “An irresistible impulse to act irrationally.” The term, compulsive gambler, implies that the gambler is unable to (cannot resist the impulse) to control his or her gambling.

Pathological gambling is a term that is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is found among other Impulse Control Disorders, not otherwise specified, 312.31. There is a list of ten criteria (pdf), of which a person must admit to five, to be diagnosed as a pathological gambler.

 

Seniors are easily recognizable in gaming venues, but it is unknown if they have a higher rate of gambling problems than other age groups. More information on seniors and gambling (pdf).

  • Gambler’s Anonymous meetings and materials:www.gamblersanonymous.org
  • If you are a loved one or friend of someone with a gambling problem, find Gam-Anon meetings and materials at: www.gam-anon.org.
  • The Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling is a private, nonprofit agency that provides public awareness, education, training, advocacy and helpline services: www.evergreencpg.org.
  • The National Council on Problem Gambling is a clearinghouse for information, organizes a national conference, and certifies problem gambling treatment providers: http://www.ncpgambling.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1

The goal of the Problem Gambling Advisory Committee is to provide the best prevention and treatment services to problem gamblers and their family members. Participants include representatives from the Recreational Gaming Association, Washington Gambling Commission, Washington’s Lottery, Washington Horse Racing Commission, tribes, Washington Indian Gaming Association, treatment providers, recovering gamblers and advocacy agencies.  Law enforcement, defense attorneys, and the Certification Board for Gambling Treatment Providers are also represented.  The Committee meets monthly, with work groups that address Helpline, Prevention, Training, and Treatment.

Visit our Publications page and click on Problem Gambling.