Effects of Disordered / Problem Gambling

| August 27, 2016

It is important to recognize that most people can gamble without negative consequences. However, a significant percentage suffer major problems (about one in every 37 adults).

It’s been said that each disordered gambler affects six to 12 others in his or her life. Individuals, families and communities all suffer from disordered gambling, and, while it would be impossible to describe all of the repercussions associated with problem gambling, the following issues help to illustrate why problem gambling can be so destructive.


  • The average gambling-related debt among problem gamblers in treatment is about $27,000 (Oregon Health Authority).
  • One in ten (11.1%) disordered gamblers in Oregon treatment reported filing bankruptcy (Oregon Health Authority, 2013).

Family Issues

  • About half of those in Oregon gambling treatment report they had jeopardized or lost a significant relationship due to their gambling (Oregon Health Authority).

Abuse & neglect:

  • “Stress and financial crisis related to gambling problems may manifest within the home and result in the perpetration of violence against partners and/or children” (Afifi, Brownridge, MacMillan & Serene, 2010).
  • “Problem gambling was associated with increased odds of the perpetration of minor and severe dating violence, while pathological gambling was associated with increase odds of minor and severe dating violence, severe marital violence, and severe child abuse” (Afifi, Brownridge, MacMillan & Serene, 2010).
  • Research consistently shows higher rates of pathological gambling in teens whose parents gamble excessively (Gupta & Derevensky, 1997; Jacobs, 2000; Wallisch & Liu, 1996).
  • Children of problem gamblers have been shown to have higher levels of use for tobacco, alcohol, drug use, and overeating than do their classroom peers (Gupta & Derevensky, 1997).
  • It’s not certain whether gambling is a method of coping with abuse, or vice versa.


About one third of problem gamblers in Oregon treatment had serious suicidal thoughts, and about 5 percent had actually attempted suicide.

  • A major depressive disorder is likely to occur in 76 percent of pathological gamblers (Unwin, Davis, & Leeuw, 2000).
  • A Nova Scotia study listed problem gambling as a factor in 6.3 percent of suicides (2004). In Nova Scotia, gambling questions are asked specifically along with suicide investigations.
  • An estimated two percent of suicides in Canadian provinces of Alberta, Quebec, and New Brunswick were related to problem gambling issues (Messerlian, Youth Gambling International Newsletter, Summer 2005).


  • Approximately 1/4 of those in Oregon gambling treatment report committing illegal acts to obtain gambling money (Oregon Health Authority)
  • The vast majority of gambling-related crimes are non-violent; embezzlement, check forgery, credit card theft, fenced stolen goods, tax evasion, insurance fraud, employee theft and fraud are common gambling-related crimes.

Category: Problem Gambling

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