For most Americans, gambling is a fun, mostly harmless past-time – in fact, 85% of American adults report having gambled at least once in their lives. Though gambling may conjure up images of the luxury casinos on the Las Vegas strip, it comes in many forms. These include purchasing lottery tickets, sports betting, poker, and even online gaming. Though most people who gamble do so responsibly, it can all-too-easily turn from an occasional activity to a persistent problem, which in extreme cases, can lead to personal and professional losses, financial ruin, and even suicide.
Problem or pathological gambling is classified as an addiction by the American Psychiatric Association and affects the brain the same way as alcohol or drugs. It is a much more widespread problem than most people might realize, with approximately 2 million American adults meeting the criteria for problem gambling in a given year.
Having a problem with gambling is not defined by the amount of money you gamble or how often you bet on sports online, but by whether gambling plays an outsize negative role in your life. It can affect people from all walks of life, so the odds are that almost everyone knows someone that is affected. Here in Memphis, the Gambling Clinic at the University of Memphis is the only place that focuses on research and treatment of problem gambling. The clinic works to provide low-cost, evidence-based treatment that is accessible to people of all income levels and informed by cutting edge research that is performed by the clinic and by research teams around the world.
The Clinic also strives to act as a resource for the community by providing education to the public, and emphasizes the importance of spreading the word, especially since gambling addiction so often flies under the radar. All too often, the family and friends of someone who is struggling with gambling may not know where to turn to or even realize that problem gambling is a diagnosable, treatable disease. Knowing how to recognize problem gambling, betting, or gaming and being aware of the resources available to treat it are the first step towards curbing this problem. You can find more information and resources here.
If you are interested in having the Gambling Clinic at your next health fair or community event, you can contact the Gambling Clinic at or call (901) 678-STOP. The Gambling Clinic also conducts talks on gambling and their research and welcomes opportunities to speak to groups of all kinds about gambling addiction. If you think you may have a problem with gambling, you can take this free screening tool and contact the Gambling Clinic.
- National Council on Problem Gambling
- National Hotline: 1-800-522-4700
- Mississippi Hotline: 1-888-777-9696
- Tennessee Hotline: 1-800-889-9789