Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc.

ARIZONA HELPLINE 1-800-777-7207

Escape Gamblers - More Facts
Escape Gamblers - More Facts

Since 1997, ACCG has collected data from thousands of compulsive gamblers calling its 1-800-Helpline and gathered information from gamblers attending self-help programs across Arizona. ACCG makes the following observations:

The Escape gambler and Action gambler
share some of the same 
  • Both suffer from low self-esteem
  • Become liars
  • Become manipulators
  • Evolve through four stages: Winning-Losing-Desperation-Hopeless
For Escape gamblers, however, there are important differences.
Understanding these differences can accelerate recovery.
  • They become problem gamblers later in life, frequently after 30 and as late as 80.
  • Play "luck" games: slots, video poker, bingo, lottery, other machines, Internet.
  • Gamble to escape problems.
  • Are numb/anesthesized while gambling.
  • Are freed from physical and/or emotional pain while gambling.
  • Have been nurturing, responsible individuals for the majority of adult life.
  • Often victims of childhood abuse.
  • Do not like confrontation; in desperate need of empowerment.
  • Become compulsive almost immediately once predisposing factors emerge.
  • Although the Escape gambler may have winning episodes after becoming compulsive, these wins simply provide the means to gamble longer.
  • Usually seek help for their problem within 6 months to 3 years after becoming compulsive.
  • High probability of long term abstinence from gambling if they are able to replace gambling with productive activity and regain/develop coping skills.
  • Probably codependent. Recovery greatly accelerated by recognizing and dealing with codependency issues.
  • Have a difficult time in early recovery. They do not forgive themselves easily and carry deep shame and guilt.
  • Spouses of women Escape gamblers are not likely to attend recovery programs such as Gam-Anon.
  • Have a better opportunity at long term recovery; become more involved in their own recovery.
  • Are more likely to seek professional help.
  • Need empowering rather than humbling.


Many escape gamblers identify codependency problems as some of the underlying issues they must deal with as part of their recovery. Books by such authors as Melody Beatty or Pia Mellody as well as CoDA itself are recommended. Books are available on line through Hazelden or

lease visit:
CoDA at
Reading Note: Although the pronoun "he" is used to describe the Action gambler and the Escape gambler is referred to as "she," this is NOT intended to imply that ALL Action gamblers are male nor that ALL Escape gamblers are female.