Gambling problems develop and worsen over time, similar to alcoholism or substance abuse. The stages of gambling range from mild or occasional problems to severe, repetitive problems that can affect many different areas of a gambler’s life.
- Non-Gamblers: About 17% of adults in California have never gambled3.
- Casual/Social Gamblers: Most people gamble casually, with about 75% of adults gambling at least once a year and 15% at least weekly.2 Lottery or raffle tickets are the most common form of gambling for adults in California3, while many others may go to a casino, card room or racetrack for entertainment.
- At-risk Gamblers: In California, about 9.5% of adults aged 18 and over – 2,650,000 people, based on the 2010 Census – are “at-risk” of becoming problem gamblers at some time in their lives.3 They are generally people gamble often and consider it to be their main or preferred form of entertainment, but do not put gambling before family or work.1
- Problem Gamblers: Experiencing difficulties in their personal, work and social relationships1, about 6 million adults and 500,000 teens meet the criteria for gambling addiction nationally.2 It is estimated that in California, 2.2%, – some 615,000 people based on the 2010 Census) – are problem gamblers.3
- Pathological Gamblers: Pathological gambling is a disease and for those people who suffer from it, gambling seriously harms all aspects of their lives. Afflicted with this most severe form of gambling problems, they are unable to control the urge to gamble despite the harm it causes. These people are more likely to use gambling to escape from their problems or to get relief from anxiety.1 About 1.5%, or as many as 420,000 people in California are pathological gamblers.