I love to gamble once in awhile. My husband indulges me when we're on vacation, taking me to a casino, where I dutifully spend $60. Sometimes I double my money, and sometimes I lose. It's the nature of gambling. I don't take it too seriously and I certainly don't have a problem because losing money is SOOOOO painful to me. I just chalk up my losses to entertainment expenses. I've suffered guilt when I've spent a few hundred dollars and walked out with nothing, but I don't do that anymore, (A) because I'm retired and (B) because I can't stand the pain, literally.
The most I'll lose is $60, about half the cost of a concert ticket or a pair of good shoes, so it is valid entertainment for me.
Now.....here is how you can tell if you have a gambling addition.
1. You go to Macy's and buy some gold. You don't care what the gold looks like, you feel the weight of it in your hand and whatever feels heaviest is what you take to the pawn shop for some quick gambling cash. (You buy the jewerly on your credit card). You are in your sixties. If you have to go through all those steps to get some quick cash at your age, you're in trouble and you have a gambling addiction.
2. You win a huge jackpot (my estimation of a huge jackpot is anything over $500). You don't quit gambling and leave. When you finally do leave, you're in the hole $1100 in addition to the jackpot you've put back in slot machines.
3. You can't go to the casino with other people. For you, gambling is something you need to do in private, like shooting up heroin.
4. You have to pee really badly, but you can't cash out. You just can't. When you finally lose all your money, you scurry to the nearest bathroom (and they are never close by in a big casino) with wet dribbles in your pants.
5. You're hungry, you're tired, you have a headache, you're supposed to be somewhere in ten minutes and you can't leave that slot machine.
6. You go back the next day to try to recoup what you lost the day before.
7. You're consumed with thoughts of where you'll get the money to gamble later in the week.
8. You can rationalize anything, any bill that goes unpaid, any dollar spent on a slot machine that should be spent on groceries.
9. You have every intention of going to the movies or out to dinner, but you end up at the casino, instead.
10. You're lying about how much you've lost and how often you've lost. You're exaggerating about how much you've won.
Seriously, gambling is like any other addiction; very painful, very hurtful and very costly, emotionally and financially. If you have even one of the above warning signs, please get help. Everyone wants a piece of the big pie, but very few of us get it. Grow up. Get your life back. A life is worth so much more than any amount of money.