Poker Shield

Identifying Gambling Addiction and How to Get Help

How to spot the signs of problem gambling, how to play responsibly, & our state-by-state guide to responsible gaming tools & resources that can help.

Gambling in moderation can be fun, but it can also be addictive and can cause harm. For some, gambling can spiral out of control, which can cause irrevocable harm to themselves and their loved ones.

Here at Poker Shield, we aim to give you the tools and resources you need to recognize problem behavior — whether it is for yourself or a loved one — and how to help.

In addition to understanding and spotting the warning signs, having access to the right help is key — and this guide is here to give you all the links to the resources you might need in one convenient guide.

We have broken out, by state, the help available. We have provided contact numbers and links to organizations who are there to answer your questions and help you if you worry your gambling has become a problem.

As more states offer online poker, the opportunity to play becomes easier, with games running around the clock, and accessible from virtually anywhere. Currently, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada allow residents to play online poker. Online poker is also legally permitted in West Virginia, but no site is currently live.

If you find yourself chasing your losses, spending more than you can afford, or are defensive about your gambling habits — or know someone who is struggling with this — help is at hand.

Identifying Problem Behavior

There are tons of resources out there to help you combat gambling addictions, but it can be hard to know if you even fall into that category. Do I even need help?

Lots of research has been undertaken to help help you get clarity, which, in its simplest form, can be boiled down to honestly answering a few tough questions about your gambling habits.

The Warning Signs

By asking yourself some hard questions, it is possible to then get yourself on a path to recovery, as identifying a problem is always the first step.

Remember to answer the questions honestly, as you are only fooling yourself — however hard it may be to come to terms with. If you can look your behavior in the eye, you can take the next steps to seek the help you may need.

  • Are you lying to your friends and family about the amount you are gambling?
  • Are you suffering from financial problems due to the amount you gamble?
  • Do you have feelings of stress or anxiety caused by gambling?
  • Are you stealing or borrowing money to gamble?

If you answer “yes” to any of these, then scroll down to your state below, where we have put together a directory of information for you to get the help you need. You might need to self-exclude, which means state organizations contacting a poker room or casino and letting them know they must not let you play. This helps protect you from playing on these sites when you cannot afford to do so.

Here we break down, state-by-state, the resources that are on offer to you to create a safe gambling experience. There are also helpful resources linked below to aid in identifying possible behavior that may lead to a gambling problem.

Getting Help

We will focus on PA, MI, NJ, NV, and DE — where online poker is legal — but if you live elsewhere and need help, go to the National Council on Problem Gambling where you can easily see what help is available to you.

Help in Delaware

Who To Call Hotline
Delaware Council Gambling Problems Helpline 1-888-850-8888

Delaware has set up a DE Problem Gambling site that has tons of information to help with any queries or problems you might have regarding problem gambling behavior. Currently, support meetings are being offered via Zoom, but in-person meetings will hopefully resume as soon.

The Problem Gamblers organization provides free and confidential treatment services for friends and family members of problem gamblers- – not just the gamblers themselves — so if you know of anyone who may benefit from their help, please reach out to them.

Their phone line — 888-850-8888 — is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide help whenever you need it. You can also text them at 302-438-8888. A live chat option is also available via the website.

If you would like to self-exclude from gambling in the state of Delaware, you have to fill out the online form and then submit it in person to the Delaware Lottery Office, during working hours Monday to Friday. Please call the Delaware Lottery Office in Dover at (302) 739-5291 to make an appointment.

You can self-exclude for 1 year, 5 years, or a lifetime. By self-excluding, it will ban you from going into the Casino at Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino, along with their online counterparts.

State Resource Links
Delaware DE Problem Gambling Visit the website »
Delaware Self Exclude DE Visit the website »
Delaware Gov Help & Resources Visit the website »

Help in Michigan

Who To Call Hotline
Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-270-7117

Over in Mitten State, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is in charge in keeping players safe and is the state regulator for all online gambling.

Michigan has a Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund that has been created so that gamblers get the assistance they need. If you choose to self-exclude, it is best to call the compulsive gamblers helpline first at 1-800-270-7117 so they can talk you through next steps. In Michigan, to self-exclude is to put yourself on the Disassociated Persons list. Don’t be afraid of this term. It is just what it is called to put yourself on the self-exclude list — as you no longer wish to associate with casinos — so they cannot offer you their services.

The Michigan Health and Human Services have put together some great content to help you identify problems and get the help you need. You can visit their website using the link below. You will find wider resources to organizations such as Gamblers Anonymous, Health Management Systems of America Gambling Treatment Program, and National Foundation for Credit Counseling, which can help get any personal finances in order that might be in disarray due to gambling.

To call the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline — open to all MI residents and promises confidentiality — the number is below. Experienced counselors are available 24/7 to help with any problems you might have. The number is also toll-free.

State Resource Links
Michigan Health & Human Services Visit the website »
Michigan Self Exclude in MI Visit the website »

Help in New Jersey

Who To Call Hotline
NJ Gamblers Anonymous 855-222-55427

We have provided links below if you want to self-exclude from online and live casinos in New Jersey. The minimum self-exclusion periods you can choose from are one year, five years, or lifetime. You can choose between self-excluding from internet games only or for both live and internet games. You can either register by following the links online or by going in person to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, located in Atlantic City.

If you just want access to more information about support and help for gambling problems, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc is a not-for-profit organization designed to educate as well as provide referral services for people affected by a gambling addiction.

Here, you will find a wealth of information including links to help friends and family members that may be suffering from the effects of gambling addiction. You will also find webinars and workshops you can attend. The Council on Compulsive Gambling also hosts in-person meetings to help you combat addiction issues that have arisen through gambling.

The Council works in tandem with the state regulator, the NJDGE, to offer the self-exclusion program covering iGaming as well as land-based casino gambling.

Once you have self-excluded, you can expect the DGE to do the following:

For land-based casinos, the DGE will share a photo and description of you to each casino. You will be removed from all casino mailing and promotional marketing lists.

For self-excluding from an online casino, the DGE will either share your player account details or share your self-exclusion application with each online gambling site licensed with the DGE in the state of New Jersey.

State Resource Links
New Jersey Self Exclude in NJ Visit the website »
New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling Visit the website »

Help in Nevada

Who To Call Hotline
Nevada Problem Gamblers Helpline 1-800-522-4700

The Nevada Gaming Commission and the Nevada Gaming Control Board govern Nevada’s gaming industry.

However, unlike the other states, Nevada does not offer a self-exclusion service. Unfortunately, to self-exclude in Nevada, you must speak to each casino individually. This makes it much harder to seek help in Nevada if you are suffering from gambling addiction or lack the self control to avoid live or online casinos. Unfortunately, there is no exclusion program in Nevada as seen in other states.

If you want to self-exclude, you can contact the casinos directly and ask them to no longer give you access to credit, check-cashing, and to opt-out of all their marketing.

If you don’t want to go into a casino, but want to seek broader help and resources, you can contact the Nevada Council of Problem Gambling instead.

The Council is a non-profit set up to help the residents of Nevada with any problems that arise from troubling gambling habits and their website is set up with loads of information and resources to allow you to get help. All linked up below.

State Resource Links
Nevada Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Visit the website »

Help in Pennsylvania

Who To Call Hotline
PA Regulator Helpline 1-800-GAMBLER

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is the state regulator for PA and, as such, plays a key role in providing resources for players who may be struggling with their gambling habits.

As stated on their website, the PGCB works to provide “education, outreach and prevention options” to anyone that may be suffering from problem gambling.

You can self-exclude in PA for 1 year, 5 years, or you can choose a lifetime ban. To self-exclude means that you actively ask the casinos to not let you gamble on their sites, be it live or online. Over in PA you can only self-exclude yourself. You cannot do this for a loved one. To date, over 16,000 PA residents have already chosen to self-exclude, so if you opt to go this route, know that you are definitely not alone in doing so.

Below, we provide direct links to take you straight to the Pennsylvania casino self-exclusion form, but if you want to know more about the process, you can go to the Responsible Play PA website, which is also linked below, along with other useful resources to assist you in getting the help you need.

State Resource Links
Pennslyvania Self-Exclude PA Visit the website »
Pennslyvania PA Regulator Visit the website »
Pennsylvania Responsible Play PA Resources Visit the website »

Problem Gambling FAQ

Do you still have questions about problem gambling and how to gamble responsibly? Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to understanding and seeking help for gambling problems.

I think I am addicted to gambling? What help is there?

There is tons of help out there. Scroll up or use the links on the left to jump to your state and find out exactly what resources are available to you. Details on in-person or remote counseling, details on self-exclusion from gambling sites and establishments, and further resources are all outlined.

There are 24/7 fully confidential phone numbers you can call, live chat you can use, texting services, and real people you can speak to, any time of day. Help is there for you.

I am struggling to decide if I have a gambling problem or not, what should I do?

It’s important to identify problem behavior. Ask yourself:

  • Have you ever lied to friends or family about your gambling?
  • Have you ever gambled in secret or hidden the extent of your gambling?
  • Have you ever put relationships, a job, school, or work opportunities in jeopardy because of gambling?
  • Do you gamble to escape day-to-day life?

If you answer “yes” to any of these, you may need to seek help. But don’t panic —there are heaps of free and confidential services that are designed to get you the help you may need.

I have money problems due to my gambling habits, is this bad?

The short answer is yes. This could mean you are gambling beyond your means. Speak to your doctor or seek help via the services we have outlined in this guide above.

Ask yourself the following questions — and be honest. If the answer to any of them is “yes”, please look for help.

  • Are you preoccupied with gambling?
  • Do you plan or scheme how to get more gambling money?
  • Do you need to continually increase the amount of money you gamble with to chase the endorphin rush?
  • Have you ever stolen to get gambling money?
  • Has gambling affected your friendships or relationship?
  • Have you ever asked others to bail you out of financial trouble caused by gambling?

I think someone I know has a gambling problem — is there anything I can do to help them?

Yes, there are resources available for you to help a loved one — but with any addiction, the afflicted person has to be ready to receive help before change can happen.

Nationwide services such as the National Problem Gambling Helpline are a great place to start.

What does it mean to “self-exclude”?

Self-exclude is the term used by gambling companies and state regulators to describe the act of players actively asking one or more gambling establishments to block them from gambling at their in-person and/or online establishment, for a pre-determined period of time, which could be days, months, or a lifetime ban.

In some cases, you can self-exclude from both online and live casinos in one go. You can also choose how long to self-exclude for — a number of months, years, or for life. Once you have self-excluded, the casino cannot let you play any games or place any bets — and this goes for both online and live services.

Jump to your state via our navigation bar on the left of this guide to see what self-exclusion options are available in your state.

I am embarrassed to seek help, what confidential services are there?

Almost all gambling help services promise complete confidentiality.

There is absolutely nothing to worry about and there is also nothing to be embarrassed about. Gambling addiction is real and is a medical problem. There should be no shame associated with seeking help. If anything, it shows you want to make a change and is the first step in taking responsibility. Your efforts will be applauded by friends and family.

Jump to your state using the nav bar on the left and check out the links we have provided to learn more.