What is chasing losses?


The excitement of winning when gambling can be strong, and it might make people take risks they wouldn’t normally take. Have you ever felt like you’re just one hand away from a big win? Or that the next game will make up for your losses? If so, you might be caught up in what is called “chasing losses”.


What is chasing losses?

Chasing losses in gambling is when people increase bets or change strategies to recover money they’ve lost. This occurs because people believe a big win is around the corner and with each loss, the urge to recover their earlier losses gets stronger.  This way of thinking can lead to real financial and emotional troubles, making it a slippery slope to avoid.

How to recognize the signs of chasing losses?

Recognizing the signs of chasing losses is the first step in lessening its impact. One key sign is a sudden increase in bet size right after facing losses. This hasty decision is often fueled by the belief that a big win will make up for earlier losses. It may also come with stronger emotional reactions, like frustration, anxiety, or desperation. Friends and family might notice mood swings or secrecy about gambling. Being self-aware is crucial, and those who recognize these signs in themselves or others can take steps to address the underlying issues and break free from the cycle of chasing losses.

What are the risks of chasing losses?

  • Financial consequences: Chasing losses often leads to betting more money, putting individuals and their families at risk of losing even more. Trying to recover losses can create a harmful pattern, causing significant financial issues. 
  • Emotional toll: Chasing losses can have a big emotional impact. Stress, anxiety, and frustration from multiple losses can have a negative impact on mental well-being, potentially leading to depression and other mental health difficulties.
  • Compulsive gambling: Chasing losses is just one sign of compulsive gambling, which is a situation where a person can't control their urge to gamble, even if it causes problems in their life. This behaviour can contribute to the development of a more serious gambling addiction. 
  • Strained relationships: Chasing losses can strain relationships with family and friends. The financial and emotional stress caused by this behaviour may lead to neglecting personal and social responsibilities. 

How to stop chasing losses

  • Set a budget: Make a gambling budget and stick to it. Knowing the amount of money you're okay with losing helps you avoid making quick decisions to try and get back what you lost.
  • Take breaks: Plan breaks when you're gambling. This gives you time to think and stops the cycle of chasing losses. Stepping away helps you see the situation more clearly. 
  • Know the game: Learn about the chances of winning and losing in the games you play. Knowing there's no sure way to win and understanding the risks in gambling can help you avoid chasing losses. 
  • Get support: If gambling is no longer a fun, affordable activity for you or someone you love, consider seeking out support. You can speak with a GameSense advisor in casinos, using the live chat feature or by calling 1-866-815-0222 at any time. They can provide information and resources to you. 

Remember to use your GameSense: Keep gambling fun by playing with money you can afford to lose and recognizing when it's time to walk away.