What is a Degenerate Gambler – Are You One?

“Degenerate gambler” is a term that many regular gamblers tease each other with after a big loss or a bad night at the tables. However, a real degen gambler is no laughing matter.

We’re going to explain what a gambling addict is, some of the signs that you or someone you know might be one, and how to get help if you think you may have a gambling problem.

The Biggest Degenerate Gamblers in History and How Much They Lost

Name Amount Lost Games Played
Harry Kakavas $1.5 billion Baccarat
Kerry Packer $28 million Baccarat, Blackjack
Charles Barkley $30 million Blackjack
Terrance Watanabe $204 million Craps, Blackjack
Archie Karas $40 million Craps, Baccarat

What Is a Degenerate Gambler?

Understanding the word degenerate is the first step to understanding what a problem e gambler is.

  1. As an adjective, degenerate is defined as having lost physical, mental, or moral qualities considered normal or desirable.
  2. If we define it as a noun, degenerate means immoral or corrupt.
  3. As a verb, degenerate means to decline physically, mentally, or morally.

None of these things can be considered good. Do you know somebody who has declined physically mentally, morally, or all three as a result of gambling? That’s pretty severe, but it’s the end state that many problem gamblers arrive at before they reach out for help.

Usually, degenerate gamblers will suffer negative consequences in their lives as a result of gambling. This could be the loss of important relationships, jobs, or financial destitution. Sometimes, in the worst cases, it’s a loss of everything. There are some degen gamblers who are literally estranged from their families and who are penniless as a result of gambling. Yet, they always find a dollar for just one more bet.

This is obviously not a desirable state of affairs. Let’s not look at some of the signs of degenerate gambling.

Degenerate Gambling – Signs and Symptoms

You’ve lost money you can’t afford to lose because of gambling. For example, if you’ve ever missed rent, failed to pay a loan, or borrowed from someone to pay off a gambling debt, you may have a gambling problem.

You’ve experienced significant relationship consequences as a result of gambling. If you’ve ever experienced a marital breakdown, the estrangement of a family member or friend, or the loss of some other significant relationship due to gambling, you might want to take a step back and consider whether it’s worth it.

If you’ve ever gambled after intending not to, you might have a problem with impulse control. For example, if you’ve played a slot machine in a bar after vowing not to, or have felt a burning impulse to gamble on a horse race or sports event, so much so that you felt you weren’t in control, you may well have a gambling addiction.

Have you ever experienced serious negative emotions because of gambling? This could be anger or rage, intense sadness or depression, or just a sense of unease after not gambling for a while. If so, you probably have a gambling addiction. If you feel that you hate casinos, this could be a sign of problems.

Does gambling preoccupy a lot of your time? Do you fanatasize about becoming a professional gambler? That’s usually not a healthy sign. If you spend hours researching bets, thinking about ways to beat gambling machines, analyzing gambling results, hoping to finally make money at the casino, or if it’s the first or last thing you think about each day, you’ve got a gambling problem, friend, and you need to do something about it before you go the way of the compulsive gambler.

What to Do If You’re a Degenerate Gambler

While we do promote some gambling sites on this website, and we do enjoy gambling as a casual pastime, we do not want a single one of our readers to experience negative consequences because of it. Gambling should always be entertainment. It should never be a cause of problems or stress in your life.

Here are some things you can do to take back control. Many reformed degenerate gamblers have used these tools to get their lives back on track.

Keep a Gambling Diary – It may seem silly, but it’s highly effective. Write down the time, date, and amount you gamble each time you play casino games, bet on sports, or play poker. When you review this, you’ll likely spot patterns you didn’t see before.

Self-Exclude – In many parts of the world, gambling sites have to honor your request to self-exclude for a set period of time. That means they can’t legally serve you during the time you’ve agreed to take a break for. If you can’t self-exclude, consider using free software to block gambling sites.

Get Support – Like any addiction, a gambling addiction can best be overcome as a team. Join your nearest gambling support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. Under the guidance of a reformed degenerate gambler who knows the territory, you have a much greater chance of recovering.


It may be a playful insult between friends, but being a degenerate gambler is no fun. Even if you don’t feel you fully qualify as a problem gambler yet, but recognize some of the above warning signs, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on your gambling habits. Problem gambling is a lot like a rabbit hole. You go tumbling down it, and you keep tumbling, and you wake up 10 years later broke, alone, and wondering what the hell happened.

Nobody wants that. Keep it fun, and if you can’t, take the steps above to stop.