Common Problem Gambling Triggers During the Holidays

smiling people in christmas clothing clinking champagne glasses and smiling

For many, the holidays are a time of joy, celebrations, and care-free attitudes. But for someone with a gambling problem, this season can be a little more challenging. Throughout all the get-togethers, there are several opportunities to gamble — from a poker game at the kitchen table with family to scratch-off tickets as a gift. As a problem gambler, these opportunities may threaten any progress you have made.

If you are struggling with a gambling problem, you will need to avoid gambling triggers. How can you do this? First, you must recognize what these triggers are for you and then plan ahead, coming up with ways to cope with a gambling problem during the holidays. To help you get started, we’ve outlined the most common triggers and provided healthy ways to deal with them.

Financial Pressures

The holidays are known as the season of extravagant gift-giving and once-in-a-lifetime trips. However, the reality is that very few people can actually afford this lifestyle, and many go into debt to make it happen.

Overindulging and going into debt can be very problematic for someone experiencing disordered gambling. Any sense of financial pressure can make them turn to the card table or online sports betting to feel like they are regaining control over their monetary situation. Before they know it, they’ve fallen back into their old habits — just for the sake of trying to keep up appearances.

The best way to avoid the trigger of financial pressure during the holiday season is to put a budget into place. Follow the budget, and put someone else in charge of any significant amounts of cash to avoid temptation.


The holidays are a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate. However, if you do not have anyone to spend time with during this season, it can feel lonely and spark feelings of depression. As a problem gambler, these isolating feelings can ignite the urge to gamble. You may think one hand will be enough to quiet the negative voices in your head about why you are alone on the holidays, but instead, it will only make your habit worse.

Instead of gambling, try putting yourself in a setting related to your other interests, such as going to a movie theater or sports game. Surrounding yourself with other people with similar interests can give you a sense of togetherness and may even help you build new friendships.


It can be tempting to keep your gambling problem a secret, especially around coworkers and distant relatives. But when they don’t know what you are struggling with, they will unknowingly put you in situations that trigger your need to gamble. A card game with betting may be just a bit of fun for them, but for you, it can be a slippery slope. If you give in to peer pressure, you’ll be filled with regret.

To ensure you can enjoy your holiday, you should be honest with the people you will celebrate with. Request that no gambling takes place while playing games, and ask that any of your gifts not be in the form of cash or scratch-off tickets. Good friends and colleagues will feel honored you shared with them and will make every effort to accommodate your requests. If being this open is not an option, it would be best to avoid these situations altogether.


No one expects to have to deal with the loss of a loved one during the holidays, and it can often be too much for anyone to bear. For someone already in a vulnerable state, such as someone with a gambling problem, it can lead them to make very poor decisions in an attempt to find relief from their pain.

Instead of doing something you’ll regret later on, seek help from a licensed professional. They can give you guidance and clarity to aid in your healing. They can even give you coping mechanisms to use in place of gambling. With time, you will be able to manage your sadness and anger.

Support for the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, make sure you are prepared by putting a course of action in place in the event that your need to gamble is triggered. If you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to gamble, you can find a virtual support meeting using the Gambler’s Anonymous phone number. We will help you connect with other gamblers to give you the support you need during this difficult time.

For more gambling help, you can reach out to 800-GAMBLER any day of the week and at any time of the day.


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