MYTH: You have to gamble everyday to be a problem gambler.
FACT: A problem gambler may gamble frequently or infrequently. If a person’s gambling
is causing psychological, financial, emotional, marital, legal, or other difficulties
for themselves and the people around them, then they have a gambling problem.
MYTH: Problem gamblers gamble at any opportunity on any form of gambling.
FACT: Most problem gamblers have a favorite form of gambling that causes them problems.
Some gamblers also engage in secondary forms of gambling, but these are not usually
MYTH: Problem gambling is not really a problem if the gambler can afford it.
FACT: Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. If a person’s
gambling is interfering with their ability to act in accordance with their values,
then there is a problem. For example, too much time spent on gambling means less time
to spend with family, friends, and others. It can lead to relationship breakdown and
loss of important friendships.
MYTH: Problem gamblers are irresponsible people.
FACT: Many problem gamblers hold, or have held, responsible community positions. In
addition, even people with a long history of responsible behavior are vulnerable to
developing a gambling problem. When a person is having a problem gambling episode,
that person is unable to control their gambling and in this compromised state their
actions look like irresponsible behavior.
MYTH: Children are not affected by problem gambling.
FACT: Surveys show that about 10% to 15% of American and Canadian youth have experienced
gambling-related problems, and 1% to 6% of these individuals may satisfy diagnostic
criteria for pathological gambling. Additionally, children of problem gamblers have
been shown to be at a higher risk of developing health-threatening behaviors. This
includes alcohol and drug use, problem gambling, eating disorders, depression and
MYTH: Partners of problem gamblers often drive problem gamblers to gamble.
FACT: Problem gamblers are skilled in finding ways to rationalize their gambling.
Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for actions, including actions
needed to overcome the gambling problem.
MYTH: Financial problems are the main reason that problem gambler’s relationships
FACT: It is true that money problems play an important part in ending relationships.
However, many non-gambling partners say that the lies and lack of trust is the biggest
MYTH: Parents of problem gamblers are to blame for their children’s behavior.
FACT: Many parents of problem gamblers feel hurt and guilty about their son’s or daughter’s
gambling behavior, but they are not to blame.
MYTH: If a problem gambler builds up a debt, the important thing to do is to help
them get out of the financial problem as soon as possible.
FACT: Quick fix solutions are often attractive to everyone involved and may appear
to be the right thing to do. However, “bailing” the gambler out of debt may actually
make matters worse by enabling gambling problems to continue.
MYTH: Problem gambling is easy to recognize.
FACT: Problem gambling has been called the hidden addiction. It is very easy to hide
as it has few recognizable symptoms, unlike alcohol and drug use. Many problem gamblers
themselves do not recognize they have a gambling problem. Problem gamblers often engage
MYTH: If I keep gambling, my luck will change and I'll win back the money I've lost.
Reality: Each time you place a bet, the outcome is completely independent of the previous
one. This means that the odds are no more in your favour on the tenth bet than they
were on the first bet. Over time, the more you risk, the more you’ll lose.
MYTH: I almost won; I must be due for a win.
Reality: "Almost" winning in no way means that a real win is around the corner. Future
gambling outcomes are in no way influenced by previous outcomes.
MYTH: If I play more than one slot machine or in more than one poker game at a time,
I'll increase my chances of winning.
Reality: Sure, you may win more often by playing two slot machines or poker games
at a time, but make no mistake about it: You’ll also spend—and ultimately lose—more
doing so. Remember, over time, the more you gamble, the more you’ll lose.
MYTH: I have a special strategy that helps me win. I pick certain numbers for the
lottery and press the stop button on a slot machine at exactly the right time.
Reality: The outcome of most games of chance, particularly lotteries and slot machines,
is completely random: You cannot influence it, regardless of what you do. For lotteries,
this means that betting the same numbers every week won't help you win any more than
betting different numbers will. The odds of winning Lotto 6/49, for example, are 1
in 14 million each and every time you play: It doesn’t matter how many people have
purchased tickets or what numbers you play—the odds are the same, regardless.
Whether or not you win playing slot machines is based solely on the randomly drawn
numbers generated by the machine’s computer—numbers which determine the game’s outcome
even before the reels stop. Pressing the stop button may speed up when you find out
what the game’s outcome is, but it won’t influence what that outcome is in any way.
MYTH: If I see a certain card coming up frequently in a poker game, I should bet on
it because chances are it will come up again very soon.
Reality: There are 2.6 million possible hands in a deck of 52 cards. Since each hand
is independent of the last, the chance of one card coming up again once it's already
appeared is no more (or less) likely than that of any other card.
MYTH: I have a feeling that today is my lucky day. I just know I’m going to win.
Reality: Hoping, wishing or even needing to win money has absolutely no influence
on the outcome of a game of chance.
(materials used with permission from the National Council on Problem Gambling )