Most people can enjoy a friendly wager without being in danger of developing a gambling problem. But for a significant number of people, gambling will become a behavior that leads them where they never expected to go. How can a person know when he or she has crossed the line from a safe, recreational behavior into the realm of problem gambling?
Gambling is a problem when it is creating financial, marital, emotional or legal stress. Whether a person is using gambling to escape other problems in life or has become swept up into a compulsive behavior problem, gambling damages every facet of a person’s life. And believe it or not, a lot of gambling takes place during normal business hours, which means that co-workers often see the signs of gambling well before a person’s family does.
What are the signs of a co-worker’s gambling problem?
- They often disappear from the job without a reasonable explanation.
- They gamble during work break times.
- They like to make wagers with fellow workers.
- Their bills are mailed to the office rather than to a home address.
- They ask for money rather than vacation days.
- They have a habit of borrowing from office mates and make an issue out of any money others may owe to them.
- They are in either a very good or very bad mood depending on wins or losses.
- They make comments about enormity of their debt.
- Their work suffers due to tardiness, absence, missed deadlines and a general preoccupation with something other than the task at hand.
- They fudge expense account reports.
- They spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone.
- They are caught stealing office materials or property.
How gambling affects work
People with a gambling problem are always looking for stolen moments to place another bet or are distracted from work with thoughts of how to cover up their gambling. Their work productivity plummets since plenty of work doesn’t get completed and what does get finished is poor quality. The stress of gambling in secret can lead to depression and other physical illnesses, all of which can make work performance sub-par.
When the gambling problem is bad enough, a person may be willing to lie or steal at work in order to keep gambling. The person often rationalizes the criminal behavior with the self-made promise of paying the company back after the “big win.” For the majority of gamblers, that win never comes.
If you notice the signs of problem gambling, it’s OK to confront the person in a gentle way about what you have observed. Don’t attempt to diagnose their problem, but do make yourself available if they ever need a listening ear. It’s also appropriate to leave them with a gambling hotline number.