Problem Gambling in Washington State

Problem Gambling is behavior which causes disruption in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social, or vocational. Like any progressive addiction, symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most serious form of the condition is called “Pathological” or “Compulsive” Gambling.

Comprehensive studies conducted in the late 1990s have shown that 96 to 98 percent of Adults who gamble in Washington State never develop a gambling problem.

Download a copy of the comprehensive Adult study. 

Download a copy of the comprehensive Adolescent study. 

When these studies were conducted, gambling was an $880 million industry in Washington. That has changed. In 2008, Washington’s net gambling receipts exceeded $2 BILLION. Click here to learn about Washington State’s Gambling Industry.

Problem Gambling is a serious health issue affecting between 80,000 and 160,000 Washington State residents-or, 2 to 4 percent of adults and up to 8 percent of adolescents and young adults. The percentage may seem small, but the harm reaches far beyond the Problem Gambler. It is estimated that for every Problem Gambler seven people-wives, husbands, children, other family members, friends, employers, etc.-are harmed by gambling addiction (in Washington, between 560,000 and 1.12 million people). Research has shown that Problem Gamblers have a higher rate of suicide than people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. Symptoms of problem gambling include severe debt, hiding gambling activity, lying, borrowing, stealing, stress, broken relationships, depression, aggression, and more. Occasionally, Problem Gamblers have hidden debt from family members and friends until the moment they lose their homes, are forced into bankruptcy, or commit suicide.

Because gambling has grown significantly in Washington State over the years and because the consequences of a gambling problem can be so severe, it is important to know all you can about Problem Gambling. At some point in your lifetime, you may know a Problem Gambler.