Horizon is committed to preventing problem gambling in youth and adults in Central Virginia by bringing awareness and connecting our community with helpful resources and information regarding problem gambling and gaming.

What is Problem Gambling

Problem gambling is the uncontrollable urge to gamble despite negative consequences in a person’s life, at any age. Gambling addiction can contribute to poor mental and physical health, loss of money, and problems with family, friends and co-workers. Problem gambling is preventable and treatable. There are a number of accessible resources available by phone, internet, and in-person throughout Virginia.

Know the Facts About Problem Gambling

Nationally, over 5.1 million adults experience a gambling problem every year.

It can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or in extreme cases, even suicide.

Gambling problems are often hidden, and many people may not be aware of them.

One person’s gambling addiction can also lead to negative consequences for friends and loved ones.

Gambling problems often occur alongside other problems such as alcohol disorder, and substance abuse.

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling in Adults

*The following signs and symptoms are consistent with the empirically based, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

  • The need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same level of excitement
  • Restless/irritable when attempting to cut back on gambling, with repeated unsuccessful efforts to control or stop gambling
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of gambling; reliving past experiences, planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money to gamble with
  • Often gambles when dealing with negative emotions
  • Routinely “chases one’s losses” even after losing repeatedly
  • Lies about the extent of their gambling
  • Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or opportunity due to gambling

Play Responsibly 

For the majority of adults, gambling can be a fun and entertaining experience, but there are risks involved.  It is critical to know the risks and have a plan before you begin gambling. 

Treat gambling as a form of entertainment, not a way to make money. 

Know how much you’re willing to lose and how long you want to play. Set limits of time and money. 

Make sure you understand the odds. In the long run, the house always wins. 

Hope to win, but expect to lose. Remember: you’re playing to have a good time. Never chase your losses. 

Never borrow money to gamble. Don’t gamble money you can’t afford to lose. 

When gambling is no longer fun, take a break.  

Protect Our Youth. Gift Responsibly

Please remember, lottery tickets are not appropriate gifts for anyone under the age of 18. In fact, gifting lottery tickets to minors is illegal, and studies show that children and adolescents who gamble are 4 times more likely to develop a gambling addiction later in life.

Gambling chemically affects a young person's developing brain, potentially having a lasting effect on brain growth and activity, causing long-term problems with impulse control, decision-making, learning, and stress management.

Many adolescents report that their first experience with gambling occurred around 8-11 years of age, with the most common type of exposure being scratch-off tickets. 

Currently, 10-14% of adolescents are at risk of developing a problem with gambling while 4-6% of youth already have a serious gambling problem compared to 1-2% of adults.

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling in Youth

  • Lowered school attendance with no explanation
  • Grades suddenly drop or the student isn’t completing assignments
  • Lack of interest in extracurriculars or other hobbies they used to enjoy
  • Their overall mood or personality changes; they become more closed-off, defensive, and/or agitated
  • Increased focus on obtaining money and the value of their possessions

Resources for Help and Education:

National Council on Problem Gambling: Problem Gambling

National Council on Problem Gambling: Problem Gambling in Virgnia 

Virgnia Council on Problem Gambling

The Dangers of Youth Gambling Addiction