Online Gambling Addiction: Symptoms and Treatment

Gambling addiction has gone viral. In this article, we talk about its causes, as well as its consequences.
Online Gambling Addiction: Symptoms and Treatment

Last update: 25 November, 2021

Online gambling addiction has been defined as a type of psychological disorder characterized by addiction to any type of gambling over the internet. This compulsive behavior can negatively affect the family life, work performance, and financial stability of those caught up in it.

Online gambling addiction has recently become a widespread problem. As a matter of fact, it’s demanding increasingly more attention as well as psychological intervention.

In this article, we identify the main characteristics of people who suffer from online gambling addiction. In addition, we describe how professional psychological support can help overcome this addiction and deal with its consequences.

Characteristics of online gambling addiction

Online gambling is a growing phenomenon. This is due to user access improvements for betting on sporting events and the fact that many gaming platforms now incorporate gambling. In fact, people can even access these sites through their smartphones. This addiction seems to be particularly prevalent among young people, college students, and the unemployed.

Mobile with gambling games

Here are some of the characteristics of online gambling addiction

1. Loss of interest in activities other than gambling

First of all, one of the characteristics of online gambling addiction is the way in which it interferes with daily tasks, as well as the other interests of the sufferer. Indeed, it’s common for people to abandon previously important activities in favor of online gambling.

2. Changes in mood

Another characteristic concerns changes in mood depending on the results the sufferer obtains. They may experience feelings of irritability and anxiety, particularly if they try to reduce their gambling time.

3. The need to lie or hide gambling behavior

In addition, those suffering from this addiction often experience the need to lie to their family and friends about their behaviors. Or, they may want to hide them in order to avoid judgments, criticism, and accusations.

4. Creating multiple profiles on different platforms

Online gamblers often create several profiles on different platforms. In this way, they can continue playing under different identities. This means they avoid possible penalties or suspensions for using the platforms longer than recommended.

5. Losing a sense of reality

Online gambling addiction is also characterized by distortions in the way in which the sufferers perceive reality. In fact, they might start to experience discrepancies between the reality they’ve built around their gambling online and actual reality. For example, they may lose the idea of time or the “real” value of money.

6. Using gambling as avoidance

Along the same lines, sufferers may use gambling as a way to escape reality and the undeniable negative consequences of their online gambling addiction.

7. Effects on work, school, and emotions

In addition to this, online gambling addiction tends to affect certain essential areas of the gambler’s life. For example, it influences their social circle and their performance at work. In fact, even their health can be affected, because they may not get enough rest. Furthermore, this addiction hijacks their thoughts.

Indeed, even if they’re not gambling, their attention remains on the gamble. They’ll be thinking of their last results or the next moves they can make. Or, they’ll be working out strategies and action plans. For example, they may plan how to hide the extent of their gambling time from others.

8. Economic losses associated with gambling

Of course, online gambling addiction also exposes those who suffer from it to financial losses. This often leads to running up debts that they just can’t pay. Thus, it ends up forming a vicious circle.

9. Denial of the problem

As in all addictions, a common characteristic is the denial of the problem or its minimization. In fact, gamblers tend to believe that they’re in control of the situation, that they can predict the outcome, or that they’ll be able to offset their economic losses with future winnings.

10. Loss of self-control

Finally, sufferers tend to lose control of themselves when it comes to gambling. As a matter of fact, it’s usually only when they perceive this loss of self-control, that they seek help.

Tokens on a computer

Treatment for online gambling

To begin with, the most important thing is to get specialized professional addiction help. Indeed, psychological support is essential for identifying the causes associated with these behaviors as well as generating effective strategies for treating it.

Therapeutic help is also essential to help the patient to control their feelings of anxiety, anger, frustration, and fear that can appear in the first phase of the recovery process. In addition to this, it can provide tools to strengthen self-control and to maintain motivation towards treatment.

Clinical intervention in a case of online gambling addiction requires patience, commitment, and self-acceptance. Furthermore, in many cases, relapses are accepted as a part of the process, hence the treatment remains ongoing.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.