Research Highlights Concerning New Gambling Suicide Statistics

The volume of research on the problem gambling crisis in America is growing significantly. It has helped researchers along with governing bodies (in some cases), operators (in some cases), the general population, and problem gamblers themselves better understand the behavioral health disorder. It has opened up eyes to the dangers of sports betting / gambling in addition to correlated and cooccurring mental health concerns that are beginning to ignite a sense of urgency. Suicidal ideation is one of them, and a recent Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies study has unveiled “gambling suicide statistics” that need to put regulators and the public alike on high-alert. Please read ahead.

Suicide Statistics Surrounding Problem Gambling That Americans Need to Know About

28% of Problem Gamblers Report Suicidal Thoughts

Gamblers are more likely than non-gamblers to have morbid thoughts, including an expressed desire to die. The Rutgers study found that 28% of problem gamblers reported suicidal ideation, while 20% indicated that they had made a suicidal attempt, and 26% have participated in non-suicidal self injury (cutting or burning the skin, etc.).

42% of High Risk Gamblers Have Wished They Were Dead

Concerns about suicide risk increase with how severe problem gambling is within a given individual:

“Rates of suicidality likewise increased with problem gambling severity, with more than 42% of high-risk problem gamblers endorsing morbid thinking (e.g., wishing they were dead), about 28% experiencing suicidal ideation, 20% reporting making suicide attempts, and 26% engaging in non-suicidal self-injury.”

This information makes it clear that early intervention initiatives are critical to protecting the nation. Vulnerable members of the population must be afforded preventative strategies so that they don’t find themselves in the category of a severe problem gambler with an inflated risk of suicide.

Mixed Venue Gamblers More Likely to Have Suicidal Tendencies?

Despite online gaming being correctly credited for the rapid growth of problem gambling across the country, there is a particular concern for problem gamblers who also visit land-based venues:

“Those who gambled in mixed venues, compared to those who gambled only online or only in land based venues had significantly higher rates of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use; binge drinking; alcohol or drug problems; problems with a range of addictive behaviors, and mental health problems. About 9% of this group reported having thoughts of suicide, nearly 6% had attempted suicide, and about 9% reported engaging in non-suicidal self injury.”

It’s of little surprise to find that substance abuse is higher among those who visit land-based gambling venues, as they are hotbeds for both legal and illegal substances. Consumption could certainly contribute to suicidal ideation and action.

Land-based casinos would be wise to invest in better protections for visiting players. This spans beyond the provision of signage informing visitors about gambling related harms and monitoring tools. They must also be prepared to offer on-site mental health support (where viable) or at least have personnel ready to connect players to tele-health and online support when they exhibit concerning behaviors on-premises. View more on what casinos can do to protect players.

Sports and Horse Bettors More Likely to Consider Suicide?

The Rutgers study uncovered interesting information delineating differences between sports and horse racing bettors, and other gamblers as it pertains to suicide risk. For one, sports/horse bettors reported statistically higher rates of moderate to severe mental health problems, including depression and anxiety compared to other types of gamblers. Further, 21% of sports bettors and 27% of horse race bettors from the survey indicated that they had wished they were dead on one or more occasions. This is significantly higher than the rate of 8% for other gamblers. Moreover, 14% of sports and 18% of horse race wagerers reported suicidal ideation. 10% of sports and 14% of horse bettors from the study reported attempting suicide, while 13% of sports and 18% of horse bettors engaged in non-suicidal self harm.

This data obliterates any crude narrative that “degenerate gamblers” are holed up in the dark recesses of poker rooms and casinos, hunched over in despair on green felt tables after having lost everything. Instead, it’s also the young and ambitious who are being marketed a glorified lifestyle and sports betting side hustle that are hitting rock bottom and consequently contemplating (and acting on) self harm.


We encourage you to read through the entire study here. What you’ll find, which is also made evident in the gambling suicide statistics above, is that problem gambling is an American public health crisis that must be tackled in unison between legislators, regulators, operators, and healthcare providers. The proliferation of mental/behavioral health support for those suffering from gambling disorder must be made a priority. American lives are at risk.

“From a public health perspective, it is critical to address the high rates of mental health-related conditions, particularly suicidality, among those with gambling problems. Unlike with other addictive behaviors, where friends and family members can observe the behaviors that accompany the progressive descent of loved ones, gambling is a silent addiction […] an individual can gamble away the family savings on their mobile phones in secret. Individuals with serious gambling problems can wreak complete financial devastation on their families and feel there is no way out but suicide. They can suffer from extreme anxiety and depression and, in some cases, engage in other forms of self-harm. Despite these known consequences, health facilities rarely screen for gambling when presented with comorbid conditions.”

Kindbridge Behavioral Health is America’s preeminent provider of tele-health and online support services for problem gambling and cooccurring conditions. If you or a loved one need help, reach out via the contacts provided below before matters get worse.

Get Immediate and Effective Problem Gambling Support

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]

Unregulated Sports Betting