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Health and Wellness - Gambling

Health and wellness are core necessities to wellbeing. It's important to know the impacts and risks of gambling and resources to help you live well. That's why 1-800-BETS OFF is a key component of Your Life Iowa. 

Did you know that almost nine in 10 Iowans have gambled in their lifetimes? Most see it as a form of recreation and, for many, it is a safe and enjoyable activity. But for about 15 percent of adult Iowans, gambling impacts their or a loved one's daily life. It's important to know the risks and warning signs of a gambling problem. It's important to know how to prevent gambling related harm.

Recovery from a gambling disorder can be hard. This may mean changing your habits or seeking help. This could include counseling with a gambling disorder specialist or mental health therapist. These supports can help improve your health and wellness. 

If you need ideas to improve your health and wellness, talk with your healthcare provider. Seek advice from gambling-free peers or reach out to 1-800-BETS OFF through Your Life Iowa. Always pay attention to how gambling is impacting your daily life. Know that no matter how bad it has gotten, there is hope! Stories of recovery happen every day. 

Become educated on the risks of gambling. The more you play, the more you pay. Click on one of the tabs below to find out more about improving your health and wellness around gambling. 

Gambling can be addictive and cause harm. 

Gambling is often enjoyable entertainment. But for about 15 percent of adult Iowans, gambling has negative consequences. Without support, these habits could result in a gambling disorder. 

The criteria for a gambling disorder are1:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling. 
  • A need to gamble with larger amounts of money to achieve the same thing. 
  • Repeated efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling. 
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to cut down or stop gambling. 
  • Use gambling as a way to escape from problems or unwanted feelings. 
  • Returning to gamble even after losses to "get even."
  • Lying to family members, therapist or others about the extent of their gambling. 
  • Risking or losing important relationships, jobs, educational or career opportunities because of gambling. 
  • Relying on others to provide money to relieve financial situations caused by gambling. 

 Gambling can increase stress-related conditions.

Gambling can cause mental, emotional and physical stress. For some, this may lead to hypertension, loss of sleep or even heart disease. For others, it may lead to depression, anxiety or substance use disorder2. Gambling also affects how the brain uses dopamine and serotonin. These hormones affect feelings of happiness2

 Gambling can increase risk of substance use disorders. 

Gambling-related problems often lead to higher rates of alcohol and nicotine use. Gambling risk factors that can increase the risk of a substance use disorder include:

  • Being competitive.
  • Feeling stressed.
  • Acting impulsive.

Questions about your or someone else's gambling? Your Life Iowa can listen and connect you with support. Contact YLI 24/7. 

Call:(855) 581-8111      Text:(855) 895-8398      Live Chat


  1. DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria: Gambling Disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition.
  2. The Biophysical Consequences of Pathological Gambling. National Library of Medicine. March 2005.

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