Does My Boyfriend / Husband Have a Gambling Problem?

Problem gambling behavior is by no means exclusive to just one gender. That being said, the numbers regarding sports betting skew more towards males. Approximately 20% of American men state that they participate in sports betting, compared to 7% of females. Further research finds that males are seven-and-a-half times more likely than women to become a problem gambler. Subsequently, it comes as no surprise to find that “does my boyfriend have a gambling problem” along with “does my does my boyfriend have a sports betting addiction” and “does my husband have a gambling problem” are regularly searched expressions on Google (source) while the reverse (for women) are not.

Of course, the data above means nothing to you. Instead, you suspect that your partner is struggling with problematic gambling behavior and want some sort of confirmation so that you can help initiate the healing process. We applaud your concern for his wellbeing and desire to be there for him. To assist, we have laid out key problem gambling behaviors and other things to watch out for.

4 Things to Watch Out for When You Suspect Your Boyfriend or Husband Has a Problem with Gambling and Sports Betting

1. Traditional Signs of Sports Betting Problem

While there are many nuances involved in the diagnosis of an behavioral health disorder (and must be addressed by a professional) there are signs commonly associated with sports betting “addiction” that you may use to guide you. If your boyfriend or husband exhibits some combination of the following, it may be time for them to receive a gambling disorder assessment:

  • They constantly talk about betting.
  • Their elevated emotions (gamblers “high”) increase with increases (value and/or frequency) of their wagers.
  • They have tried to control, cut down on, or stop betting, without success.
  • They get sad, irritable, restless or anxious when not betting, and in extreme cases, becoming aggressive or violent.
  • They bet to escape problems or relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
  • They bet more to recover losses.
  • They forget and/or bypass out on education or career opportunities because of the time and energy spent betting.
  • They forget and/or bypass out on important occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) because of the time and energy spent betting.
  • They have become distant from friends, family, and/or you.
  • They have resorted to theft or fraud to support gambling.
  • They lie about betting.
  • They are in significant debt yet continue to gamble.
  • They ask you and/or others for financial help because large sums of money have been lost through betting.

2. Increase in Concerning Behaviors During Peak Season

The traditional signs of sports betting identified above may increase during certain times of the year, namely the peaks of the sports betting season. The Super Bowl is a big one, as the American Gaming Association reported that a record of over 50 million Americans wagered on the 2023 year’s Super Bowl. Meanwhile, NCAA March Madness is expected to draw an even larger audience of 68 million Americans as the event takes place over the span of three weeks. Then there is the late May to early June combination of the end of the NBA and NHL Finals.

If you find that your partner exhibits the problematic behaviors above with greater frequency during the sports betting calendar, they may have a gambling problem.

3. Frequent Travel to Sports Betting Hubs

Do you not live in a U.S. state with legal sports betting? Does your boyfriend or husband frequently travel (and take on considerable expense) to states with regulated sports betting? If so, they may have a problem. Learn more about gambling tourism in the United States and how it could be putting your at-risk companion, at risk.

4. Hints of a Willingness to Confide

Most partners and spouses are unaware of their companion’s problem with gambling. However, given that you’re beginning to suspect that something is amiss, we ask that you look for another sign – hints that they may have been trying to confide in you.

The may have outright asked in the past about whether or not you thought that they gambled too much. Or, they may have attempted to initiate a conversation about something that seemed important to them, only to retreat and dismiss it. Alternatively, they have become “sloppy” in attempts to cover up the issue, by leaving a shared computer/laptop/tablet open to their online sports betting account. Be mindful of past, present, and future instances that may be considered cries for help. If they have a gambling problem, they have probably wondered if they should tell someone about it. As their partner, that someone may be you.

Next Steps

“The results of this study indicate that gambling is becoming a major mental health problem for young adults, especially among young adult men. A number of evidence-based practices have been developed for gambling problems, but few counselors and other mental health care providers have been trained in these interventions. There is clearly a need for counseling programs and staff to develop more assessment and treatment skill proficiencies specifically designed to address this increasing problem.”

National Library of Medicine

The quote above references a fear that companions have; if their boyfriend or husband has a problem with sports betting, can anything be done about it? Aren’t there limited resources for getting help? Traditionally this has been the case, but great strides are being made. While access to mental health services (including gambling disorder treatment) may be limited in your U.S. town, city, and state, Kindbridge Behavioral Health has stepped in to fill the void.

Kindbridge offers effective online gambling disorder therapy in a safe, confidential, and welcoming environment. We have virtual counseling options for individuals in addition to couples and family units. Contact Kindbridge today to learn more about problem gambling resources available for you and your partner.

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