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Gambling Addiction Statistics

Although gambling addiction is a behavioral addiction, it has the potential to ruin lives and lead to heartbreaking mental health outcomes. Gambling has been made even more accessible with online gambling sites and apps, allowing addicts to better hide their gambling problems. Understanding what types of people are more at risk for gambling disorders can play a pivotal role in improving gambling addiction prevention and treatments.

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Prevalence of Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is one of the most common behavioral addictions. In fact, it’s currently the only behavioral addiction listed in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition).

Despite the serious consequences gambling has on addicts, the gross gaming revenue of the gambling industry in the U.S. reached nearly 53 billion dollars in 2021 and grows more every year, according to Statista.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), approximately 5 million Americans meet the criteria for compulsive gambling. However, only about 8% of these individuals will ever seek help.

Research from the NCPG also indicates that:

  • Two million American adults in the U.S. meet severe gambling criteria.
  • Four to six million American adults meet mild or moderate gambling criteria.

Who Develops a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling issues can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. However, some demographics are more impacted by gambling addiction than others. For example, research indicates that young men and boys are more likely to have problematic gambling behavior.

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Gambling Addiction by Gender

When it comes to gambling addiction and gender, men are more likely to develop addictive behaviors than women. Gender differences seem to occur as early as young adulthood, but little is known about the risk factors accounting for these differences in gambling involvement.

  • Yale Medicine reports that men outnumber women at a ratio of about 2 to 1 among people with gambling addictions, although there are a growing number of women with gambling disorders.
  • Research from the University of California shows that 2.9% of women were problem gamblers compared to 4.2% of men.
  • A study published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors found that 91% of college men and 84% of college women reported they gambled. Of these emerging adults who gambled, 14% of men and 3% of women gambled at problematic levels.

Gambling Addiction by Age

Gambling addiction affects people of all ages, but some age groups may be more likely to develop serious gambling issues. Current research shows that people in their early 20s are the fastest-growing group of gamblers.

  • Up to 5% of adolescents and young adults who gamble develop a disorder.
  • Harvard Medical School reports that 7% of college students meet the criteria for problem gambling.
  • According to Dalhousie University, in a sample of college students, 42% engaged in gambling, and 7% of the sample was gambling at problematic levels.

Gambling Addiction by Race

While individuals of any ethnic background may develop a gambling addiction, there is evidence that ethnic minorities may be at greater risk of developing gambling issues.

According to research from Columbia University, the following rates of disordered gambling have been found:

  • Black/African Americans (2.2%)
  • Native/Asian Americans (2.3%)
  • White/Caucasian (1.2%)

That same study indicated that specifically, Native Americans, Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics showed a greater prevalence of disordered gambling when compared to Caucasians. Such research suggests that these groups may be more at risk for disordered gambling.

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Gambling by Region

Gambling addiction is a serious problem in America. Despite Nevada having the most casinos (thanks to Las Vegas), the state does not have the highest rates of gambling addiction. That unfortunate honor goes to Oklahoma, with 6.2% of its population having a gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction is also a serious issue worldwide. According to Time2Play’s gambling statistics:

  • China has the most gambling addicts in the world. Close to 60 million Chinese are gambling addicts, or 4% of the Chinese population.
  • In Australia, 3.1% of the population has problems with gambling.
  • In Canada, 3.2% of the population has problems with gambling.

Types of Gambling and Addiction Rates

Gambling comes in many different forms. Although most people think of casino games such as slot machines and poker tables, there are several different types of gambling activities, like sports gambling, online gambling, lotteries, and horse betting.

  • Slot machines are the most addictive, with 75% of problem gamblers playing slots.
  • Harvard Medical School reports that 81% of gambling addicts play online or through gambling-related apps.
  • According to recent studies, 24% of gambling addicts bet on sports in the US. Worldwide, 38% of gambling addicts participate in sports betting.

Consequences of Gambling Addiction

The effect gambling addiction has on families can be catastrophic. Many gambling addicts will go into serious debt throughout the course of their addiction. Sadly, gambling addicts are 15 times more likely to commit suicide due to the consequences of their gambling addiction.

  • Debt.org reports that up to 23 million Americans land in debt due to gambling.
  • Debt.org also reports that 90% of individuals with gambling addiction withdraw cash advances from their credit cards to gamble.
  • Around 3% of American problem gamblers have more than $300,000 in gambling debts.

Treatment Statistics for Gambling Addicts

Unfortunately, not all gambling addicts will seek help. Many gambling addicts also suffer from co-occurring issues like substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, which can worsen their impulsivity while gambling.

  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, over 80% of people who have some type of gambling addiction never seek treatment.
  • Of those who do seek treatment for their gambling problem, over 70% relapse and return to gambling.

Getting Help for Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction can be a challenging condition to treat, but full recovery from the condition is possible with the right treatment and support. If you or a loved one has gambling issues, now is the time to seek help before further financial harm can occur.

Talk to your doctor or mental health provider about your issues with gambling. You can also use the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which has text, call, and online chat options for people seeking help with gambling issues.

Another option is to check out SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call 1-800-662-4357 to find addiction treatment centers.

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FAQs About Gambling Addiction Statistics

What percentage of the population has a gambling problem?

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) reports that somewhere between 1% and 2% of the population will experience problem gambling in their lifetime.

What is the best treatment for gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction is typically treated through therapy and medication. While there are no medications approved for gambling addiction, many addicts have co-occurring mental health challenges that may be improved through certain drugs.

The primary treatment for gambling addiction is therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are the most common types of therapy used to treat gambling addiction. Support groups can also be a great supplement for treatment.

What are the major signs of gambling addiction?

Common signs of gambling addiction include:

  • Obsessing over when you’ll next gamble
  • Struggling to control the amount of money spent on gambling
  • Spending money intended for bills or important expenses on gambling
  • Lying about or hiding evidence of gambling
  • Being unable to stop yourself from gambling, even if you want to stop
  • Feeling depressed or anxious when not gambling
  • Continuing to gamble, even after losing
  • Needing to wager larger amounts of money in order to feel the same rush or satisfaction

What are the risk factors for gambling disorder?

There are quite a few factors that may put someone at higher risk for developing a gambling disorder.

These risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • A family history of addiction or mental health conditions
  • Having certain personality traits like having high impulsivity, being easily bored, being a workaholic, or being extremely competitive
  • Certain mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders
  • Rare side effects from medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome
Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of AddictionHelp.com and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

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AddictionHelp.com is your trusted educational guide to addiction and recovery, founded by recovering addicts and board-certified addiction specialists. Whether you are struggling with addiction or concerned about a loved one’s substance abuse, our mission is to lead you to a healthier, happier life.

  1. Alegria, A. A., Petry, N. M., Hasin, D. S., Liu, S.-M., Grant, B. F., & Blanco, C. (2009, March). Disordered Gambling Among Racial and Ethnic Groups in the US: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. CNS Spectrums. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737691/
  2. Caler, K. R., Vargas Garcia, J. R., & Nower, L. (2017). Problem Gambling Among Ethnic Minorities: Results From an Epidemiological Study. Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5589834/
  3. Galea, A. M. (2024, March 14). Gambling Statistics 2024: The Definitive Guide. Time2Play. https://time2play.com/gambling-statistics/
  4. Gambling. Rutgers Addiction Research Center (RARC). (2023, August 25). https://www.addiction.rutgers.edu/about-addiction/facts-and-figures/gambling/
  5. O’Connor, R. M., Stewart, S. H., & Watt, M. C. (2009, January 8). Distinguishing BAS Risk for University Students’ Drinking, Smoking, and Gambling Behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886908004522
  6. Sohn, E. (2023, July 1). How Gambling Affects the Brain and Who is Most Vulnerable to Addiction. Monitor on Psychology. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2023/07/how-gambling-affects-the-brain
  7. Welte, J. W., Barnes, G. M., Tidwell, M.-C. O., & Hoffman, J. H. (2011, March). Gambling and Problem Gambling Across the Lifespan. Journal of Gambling Studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4383132/
  8. Wong, G., Zane, N., Saw, A., & Chan, A. K. K. (2013, June). Examining Gender Differences for Gambling Engagement and Gambling Problems Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Gambling Studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4736715/

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