Gambling might be really fun and it IS fun unless it stops being a way of entertaining yourself from time to time and becomes an addiction. Unfortunately, we are not perfect and sometimes, the thing we were thinking could never happen to us starts to ruin our life and relationships with friends and family. Luckily, there is always a way out.

Responsible gambling is what should be pursued and promoted but if you or some of your loved ones have failed — know that you’re not alone and dive deep into our guide to gambling addiction where you’ll find all the necessary information and helpful resources.

Gambling Addiction Causes

No one can clearly say what is the exact reason for gambling addiction and it can hardly be limited to just one. In most cases, it’s a combination of factors that make a person stop controlling themselves and get involved in problem gambling. Here are the most common of them.


All our brains are different and that’s the beauty. Some of us get excited from painting, some adore watching old movies made in the 40s, and some get super-excited when they get a winning combination in slots. Their brains usually don’t produce the necessary amount of serotonin and norepinephrine — hormones linked to stress and happiness — so they need to boost them by playing gambling games.

Studies by scientists and researchers from Imperial College London suggested that the brains of gambling addicts respond to gambling activities just like the drug addicts’ response to getting a drug. And even though gambling addiction doesn’t damage your physical health that much, it’s still pretty dangerous. Besides, there are some hypotheses that gambling addiction can be genetically conditioned. So if you know that your grandma was keen on poker — better be careful with casinos.


The reason for gambling addiction to appear might also be more psychological than biological. The addict’s brain can be working perfectly on the physical side but the way a person thinks might be completely distorted. That includes various weird superstitions (like throwing a coin several times waiting for it to flip on the specific side and thinking that it can affect the result of the game). People with a gambling addiction can be super-confident in what they are doing and while it’s usually a great thing that helps you achieve success in your job or personal life, that’s not useful while playing gambling games. The winning doesn’t depend on how confident you are when pulling a lever of the one-arm bandit or while playing another round of blackjack but it can seriously affect how much money you spend at the end of the day.


Social causes might be the most important and the most widespread ones in gambling addiction cases and they include all the outside factors that can influence the person’s behavior and psychological state. The addiction can be triggered by problems at work or in personal life, for example.

Some people believe that gambling can solve their financial situation and only make it worse. We can’t stress this more — gambling, whether online or offline, should be treated as a way to have fun or unwind after a long day but it can’t be a source of income unless you are a professional poker player winning the world’s tournaments. Excessive stress or loneliness, death in the family and other difficult life events, complicated relationships with S.O. or family members — all of these factors can ignite gambling addiction though it doesn’t mean every person struggling through a difficult period will become addicted to gambling games.

Problem Gambling Signs and Symptoms

The first step toward the solution to the problem is to admit that the problem exists. But how do you know that you or someone you care about is addicted to gambling? Well, some signs can show it. If you observe several of them or even just one — consider talking about it to a specialist or contacting one of the helpful resources we’ll mention later in this article.

Your positive emotions are substituted with negative ones

What you should get from gambling games is fun, thrill, and a controlled feeling of excitement. But what if all those emotions are left far behind and now gambling games negatively affect your mental state? People with gambling addiction start feeling sad, anxious, and stressed. We all can get slightly upset when losing a round in our favorite game but that feeling goes to extremes when you are an addict.

Gambling becomes a priority

There is nothing bad in playing gambling games in your spare time but you should be concerned when it becomes the only activity you want to get involved in. Preferring gambling to other important things like work, hobbies, and time with friends or family is one of the main symptoms of addiction.

Entertainment is no more a goal

One more signal of addiction is that a person stops playing games to have fun and starts doing it for some other reasons. It can be a way to run from real-life problems, escape anxiety, or whatever else. It’s important to remember that games can’t solve any of your issues — it’s only you who can.

You start chasing losses

It’s impossible to win constantly — every frequent player knows it very well. There is a house edge you just can’t beat, there are losing streaks, and there is Mercury in retrograde that just can’t let you get that jackpot. And the best solution here is to put the game aside and try your luck next time. But not when you are a gambling addict. People with a gambling addiction will play more and more, trying to recover the losses they got and thus putting themselves even in a deeper hole.

Money problems occur

In most cases, people start their way into the world of gambling games with small bets. But for the time being, that amount can significantly increase and continue rising. It’s probably not a big deal when you are a millionaire but if you start playing with money set aside for more important things like paying bills, buying your mum’s birthday present, or going on a holiday — that’s a clear sign of the addiction.

You just can’t stop

When you are a responsible player, you know when it’s time to say “stop”, get out of the casino or close a laptop and go do some other stuff. When you are a compulsive gambler, there is not such a thing as “getting bored of games”. You just play and play and can’t stop even if you feel like you want to.

Understanding the Phases of Compulsive Gambling

A person doesn’t just fall into addiction in one day — it’s a continuous process with things slowly getting worse with time. In most cases, specialists define four main stages:

Now let’s look at them in more detail to understand what happens with an addict at each stage.

The Winning Phase

The phrase got its name from the fact that gambling addiction sometimes appears after a big (or relatively big win). A person wins the money and gets a super-optimistic and positive attitude toward gambling, starts playing more often to win more, or even believes to be born under a lucky star or has some special gambling skills that need to be pursued. It’s not an obligatory stage though — some players can develop addiction with no winning stage at all. The duration of the winning stage is also not stable: while some can stay in it for years or even decades, the others will move forward to the next one within a couple of weeks.

The Losing Phase

The losing phase is much less positive than you could get from its name. At this stage, there is a significant increase in the frequency of gambling — the player has earned some tolerance and now needs to play more to get the same feeling of excitement they could feel in the beginning. This is when an addict starts losing more money than it would be reasonable to lose and gets into debt. The closing stage is the one when the player’s relationship with his friends and family becomes worse as one chooses gambling as the main priority and starts to hide it from everyone due to shame or anxiety.

The Desperation Phase

At this stage, an addict gets desperate as there is no more control over the situation. The amount of debts significantly increases and it looks like there is no way to pay them back but to play more and recover the losses. In the desperation phase, a person with an addiction might want to stop gambling but in most cases, it’s too late, and professional help is needed to cut the addiction. Even physical health may suffer at this point due to anxiety, restlessness, and sleep problems.

The Hopeless Phase

The hopeless phase is also not an inevitable one as most addicts manage to seek help before they reach the very bottom. At this stage, a person with addiction sees no possible ways out of the situation. Alcohol and drug abuse are frequent companions of the hopeless stage. Moreover, 20% of addicts may attempt suicide at this point.

On a more positive note: the hopeless phase is not the last one. If one manages to draft off the bottom and gets the necessary treatment, there are two more phases ahead — the rebuilding one and grows one. This is when one rebuilds their ability to enjoy life without gambling, grows back relationships, and finds other ways to solve personal problems and issues.

How to Stay Safe When Gambling Online

The best way to fight gambling addiction is to prevent it. It’s so much easier to stay safe when playing and learn to control yourself than to deal with the consequences later. Here are the tips you can follow to stay safe when gambling online:

As you can see, the tips are super-easy to follow. Remember them while playing and you can save yourself a lot of problems in the future and let gambling bring you only positive emotions and true fun.

How to Prevent Gambling Disorders?

In the previous passage, we covered the simplest rules you can follow to stay safe while gambling. But what if you already feel that it becomes harder to stop or if you know yourself pretty well to understand there might be a problem if you start making bets? The easiest solution here will be to just not get involved in gambling activities at all but they are so much fun, aren’t they? If you want to make bets in online casinos and don’t get into trouble, there is a list of more specific recommendations that can help you control the gaming process more.

Gambling Operators’ Responsibility

Your safety is always in your own hands but it’s good to have someone to help you if you feel unconfident. That’s why casino operators should be involved in the process of gambling addiction prevention and be ready to lend a helping hand to those in need. Every business’s goal is to earn money and online casinos are not an exemption but earning money on people with gambling addiction is bad for karma and no reliable gambling website will practice it. So how do you tell a reliable casino from a greedy one in this case?

Protect Minors from Gambling

We often think about how to protect our kids from violence, bullying, or drug addiction but rarely keep gambling in mind as it’s considered as something that children are just not interested in. Kids see gambling advertisements everywhere and might want to try it just for fun or to earn money in “the easiest way”. Playing slots seems much more attractive than mowing your neighbor’s lawn. Except for the fact that underage gambling is illegal and seriously discouraged by casino operators (that’s why they always check your identity before you can sign up and make a deposit), it’s also very dangerous.

According to LeoSafePlay statistics, kids are 300% more likely to develop an addiction than adults. They also don’t have their own in most cases so a minor addicted to gambling might get involved in crimes. So protecting minors from gambling should become one of the priorities both for parents, operators, and authorities. You can’t control everything your child is doing when you are not around but you can follow several simple recommendations to decrease the chances of a kid starting playing gambling games.

Getting Help for Problem Gambling

Preventing gambling addiction is key but sometimes you can realize that there is a problem only when it’s already rather serious and you can’t just stop gambling by willpower alone. Don’t worry, it’s never too late and there is always a way out of gambling addiction. So what do you do when in trouble?

Gambling Addiction Resources

As we’ve already said, you are never alone in your addiction. Luckily, there are special services helping people in trouble — they’ve already helped thousands of gambling addicts and know exactly what to do and what steps to take to recover. Contact them if you need help and see what you can do together. If you are a friend or a family member of someone with a gambling addiction, don’t hesitate to reach local recovery programs or one of the resources we’ll name below as they can explain the roadmap and give recommendations on how to act and what not to do.

Good news for the Canadian players: if you want to take a step toward responsible gambling or get help from gambling addiction for you or someone close to you, there is a local problem gambling council in every Canadian province. Below, you’ll find a list of local institutions that you can reach at any moment.

As you can see, there are numerous ways to get help, all within arm’s reach. And even though the first step is the most difficult one, it’s worth taking. OnlineCasinoHex is always ready to provide you with information about responsible gambling as well as recommend reliable casinos that take the players’ safety seriously to prevent online gambling addiction before it has a chance to develop.

Adam Lane
Head of Content at CasinoHEX Canada
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Adam is an editor at CasinoHEX Canada. He checks dozens of online casinos daily. Adam’s career as a professional gambler started almost 10 years ago.

Amelia Flynn
Content Manager at CasinoHEX
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Amelia, a dynamic and knowledgeable Canadian, is the driving force behind the content management team at CasinoHEX Canada. Joining with a singular mission, she aims to guide thousands of gamblers in their quest to discover expert casino reviews, indulge in rewarding pokies, and take advantage of outstanding bonus offers.