Gambling among college students runs along the continuum from no gambling, to experimenting, to regular gambling, to excessive gambling. “Problem gambling” is not defined by the frequency of gambling, but rather, by the disruption gambling causes in your life. Aspects of your life that may be affected include psychological, physical, social, vocational. As a college student, you may experience adverse consequences such as: missing classes, failing grades, sleep deprivation, and financial debt. Persistent or reoccurring “problem gambling” may be considered a “gambling disorder.” Gambling disorder can be coupled with other addictions, like substance use disorders.  Unfortunately, gambling disorder has the highest suicide rate out of any addiction disorder. While the majority of college students are likely able to gamble responsibly, research indicates that roughly 6% of college students have a serious gambling problem.

What is Gambling?

Gambling is typically defined as any activity where you wager money or an object of value, the bet is irreversible once placed, and the outcome of the bet relies on chance.  Typical forms of gambling include lotteries, number games, sports betting, horse betting, card games (poker, blackjack), casino table games (roulette, craps), as well as slot machines.  With the prevalence of online gambling and ever-increasing connectivity to the internet, gambling on a smartphone or from the privacy of your home (or dormitory) has never been easier.

Signs of Problem Gambling

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have a problem with gambling, there are many different warning signs associated with problem gambling.  It is important to recognize that while each situation may present differently (you could meet criteria for one warning sign or all warning signs), problem gambling is defined by the impact it has on your life.  Below are common signs associated with problem gambling:

  • You to gamble with more money to feel the same level of excitement
  • You feel restless or irritable when attempting to stop or cut down gambling
  • You have made repeated unsuccessful attempts to moderate, cut back, or stop gambling
  • You often preoccupied with gambling
  • You often gamble when feeling distressed
  • After losing money, you attempt to “get even” or chase losses
  • You lie to hide gambling
  • Your gambling is negatively impacting relationships, jobs, or education
  • You on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling

Seeking Help

Problem gambling can be incredibly detrimental to your well-being.  It can be overwhelming to struggle with gambling or watch your loved one suffer.  However, through treatment and therapy, it is possible for you to live a happy and productive life free of gambling.  Just like recovery from other addictions, it is important to remember that everyone’s recovery may look different and that relapse can be a part of the process. Forms of treatment and therapy can include peer support groups (like Gambler’s Anonymous), as well as individual therapy, intensive outpatient, and residential treatment.


Free, confidential help is available by calling the Counseling Center at 610-519-4050.


For informational purposes only, the University Counseling Center offers access to online, anonymous Self-Assessment Tools. These resources are provided by third-parties unaffiliated with Villanova and the results are not shared with the University. These screenings are not a substitute for a complete evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. For personal assistance, please call the Counseling Center at 610-519-4050 for an appointment.



In an emergency, call Villanova Public Safety at 610-519-4444.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 988.