Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc.

ARIZONA HELPLINE 1-800-777-7207

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

Action Gambler


Until the 1990s, most clinical studies relating to pathological gambling were conducted using males. Thus, much of the information available about the disease was specific to male "Action" compulsive gamblers. More recent data indicates a surge in another type of compulsive gambling which we call Escape gambling. An Escape gambler has a much different profile than the traditional Action gambler. Escape gamblers include men as well as women. (Click on Escape Gamblers section for more information)


Many "action" gamblers are domineering, controlling, manipulative men with large egos. They see themselves as friendly, sociable, gregarious and generous. Their average IQ is above 120. They are energetic, assertive, persuasive and confident. Nevertheless, they usually have low self esteem. Historically, they started gambling at an early age, often in their teens, by placing small bets on sporting events or playing cards with friends or relatives. They progress through the four phases of the compulsive gambling disorder over a ten- to thirty-year time span.


Action compulsive gamblers prefer "skill" games such as poker or other card games, craps or other dice games, horse and/or dog racing and sports betting. These types of gamblers dominate legal and illegal sports betting. They gamble to beat other individuals or the "house." They often believe they can develop a system to achieve this goal. During the desperation phase of the disease, action gamblers many begin to gamble specifically for escape, medicating the pain they are feeling from the destruction created by their gambling with the narcotic-like effect of slot machines or, more likely, video poker machines.