A character who likes a flutter, to the extent where it becomes a habit or starts to cause problems.
At the less extreme end, the character will stick to small bets and simply enjoys the game. In some cases, they may even be able to make a profit from their gambling. At the more extreme end, the character is fully addicted and quite capable of ruining their own finances, lives and those of the people around them. Perhaps more common in older works and literature, when people had to make their own entertainment and card games were a much more common social activity.
Sometimes a character develops this trait temporarily, usually in a sitcom. In these cases, their new habit will often lead to a big loss, and the rest of the episode will be spent trying to recover the money or property. It's also a very convenient "habit" for a writer to use as a Compressed Vice because, as an emotional addiction, it doesn't carry outward signs that would have to be written in or accounted for later, and, as a legal or quasi-legal addiction, can be fully depicted in even some Family Friendly works and more "realistic" as an addiction for some characters than, say, heroin. Unfortunately, this often leads viewers to believe it is a Compressed Vice in real life - when real life gambling addicts range the spectrum from Compressed Vice/temporary irresponsibility to those who literally cannot stop and do incur problems with the criminal justice system or are even Driven to Suicide.
The difference between the Professional Gambler and the Gambling Addict is that the Professional Gambler is actually more of a combination of risky investor, actor and mathematician/logician, whereas Gambling Addicts often don't know or care about the odds or strategies to play them for the best possible outcome, nor do they Know When to Fold 'Em. In fact, the Gambling Addict often picks games that can't be influenced by acting or by analytical skill, such as roulette, slots, video poker, keno, or lotteries. They may think they have a "system", though. Rather than for any calculable gain, they play for the thrill and the prospect of the win that will come "any day" but likely never does (or does, but they lose it again); if they try to stop, they will find they cannot because they are hooked on this feeling.
Not to be confused with The Gambler. Often leads to being Trapped by Gambling Debts. Gambling Addiction may lead to an Absurdly High-Stakes Game. More likely than most to start a Gambling Brawl when experiencing a losing streak. If a story arc focuses on a character becoming this, it's an example of Descent into Addiction.
- In Assassination Classroom, one of the Chairman's first cruel acts on opening his school was to turn several students into hopeless gambling addicts as revenge for their bullying a student from his old cram school until he committed suicide.
- Lelouch from Code Geass, before Becoming the Mask, was a heavy gambler who often skipped classes to run off to casinos and nobles' residences. It stopped when he donned the alter-ego Zero, but regardless he still used his gambling addiction as a cover for his operations.
- Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop. Since she was woken from cryosleep with amnesia and a huge debt attached to her name, she sees no point in trying to save money.
- Kaiji from Kaiji is also suffering from this after the end of the first season. He still hadn't learned his lesson. In fact, surviving the Deadly Game only seemed to have made it worse as the resulting Chronic Hero Syndrome ended up seeming more like an excuse to keep getting himself into more dangerous gambling scenarios. After a while, even the friends that he saved start to get sick of his shit because even when he wins big and finds a way out, he just worms his way back in because it's never enough.
- Kakegurui, whose name literally means "The Compulsive Gambler", and follows a high school girl who exposes cheaters in gambling matches simply so she'll have more opportunities to bet on games of pure chance.
- Nanami's father from Kamisama Kiss. The story begins with her being kicked out of her house because of his gambling debts.
- Kankichi Ryotsu from Kochikame with his habits of playing pachinko and betting on horses.
- Yasui, a minor character from March Comes in Like a Lion, is known to gamble (and drink) away into the night in order to cope with his losses in his professional shogi matches.
- Tsunade from Naruto fits it quite nicely. She is so bad at gambling that she considers it a bad omen when she hits a lucky streak. And as it turns out, she got it from her grandfather, the First Hokage.
- Several characters in One Piece, although in most cases it's an Informed Flaw:
- Paulie of Water-7 is described as a huge gambler. He is first introduced fleeing from debt collectors and actually tries to steal the Straw Hats' 300 Million to pay them off.
- Buffalo of the Don Quixote Pirates is also a huge gambler, but from what some mooks say, he has terrible luck at the roulette. That doesn't stop him from borrowing money from Baby-5 to fuel his addiction.
- Admiral Fujitora is introduced constantly betting on the roulette wheel. Being blind, he can't see where the ball lands himself, and almost gets bilked out of his money by the cheating other players. After Luffy defeats Doflamingo, he rolls the die to see whether he should arrest the pirate or not.
- In Pokémon Adventures, we have Gold and the gaming corner in Gold/Silver/Crystal (hints are towards it being a habit; and his Togepi "inherits" it), and then the Compressed Vice version with Platinum Berlitz and the game corner at Sinnoh years later during the Diamond/Pearl arc.
- Although it's based on market arbitraging, and not gambling for pleasure, Spice and Wolf's Lawrence Craft often takes risks for profit and makes quite a good living from it. When he hits an extreme debt, he does consider the method of gambling for pleasure as a means to pay it off.
- Eisuke Kitamura in Stepping on Roses (aka Hadashi De Bara Wo Fume), much to the chagrin of the protagonist, his sister Sumi. This combined with his habit of constantly bringing orphaned children home with him has the family up to their ears in debt at the beginning of the series.
- YuYu Hakusho: Sakyo gambles obsessively as a way of sublimating his psychopathic tendencies to more profitable ventures than, say, becoming a serial killer. Fortunately for him, he's very good at it. Unfortunately for everyone else, he eventually gets bored with mundane gambling and decides to gamble with the lives of people and demons.
- Floyd Sewell of Copperhead gambled away everything he owned and then some to everyone in town. Then he did the same outside town.
- Golden Age Green Lantern villain the Gambler comes from a long line of gambling addicts.
- Long Shot, of Hunter's Hellcats, is a compulsive gambler who will bet on anything, even in the heat of combat.
- Robin (1993): Tim meets a number of gambling addicts when he goes to a gambling addict support group to try and learn the location of some underground casinos that are particularly nasty when tracking down a violent new thief styling herself as a vigilante who targets criminals running such places.
- The ironically-named Lucky Smurf in The Smurfs story "The Gambling Smurfs". He hardly ever seems to win at gambling, but he'll never stop betting on something.
- In Superman storyline The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor, Greg Gilbert's poker addiction, which has already gotten him into hot water several times, is finally affecting his daily life. After finding out that his secretary is ghost-writing his scripts so his boss does not fire him (and her), Linda Danvers confronts Greg, and he reveals why he has been missing work: he is a regular at an illegal gaming parlor, and he owes $30,000 to a mobster after a high-stakes game two weeks ago. To his credit, Greg owns up to his addiction.
Linda Danvers: Greg, don't you see what's happening? This "action" of yours— when it starts interfering with your work...complicating your whole life like this, it... It...
Greg Gilbert: Yeah? It what? It means I have a problem— like maybe I'm a compulsive gambler? If you think that's news to me, Linda, guess again!
- In Explorers on the Moon, Frank Wolff turns out to have been this; Colonel Jorgen first persuaded him to work for him by paying off his gambling debts in exchange for classified information.
- In The Castafiore Emerald, Castafiore's accompanist Wagner is the first suspect in the theft of her jewels when Tintin finds out that he sneaks out of the house every day; turns out he's actually going to the village to place bets.
- Will's father in W.I.T.C.H. was this, which was why her mother left him. He reappeared for a short storyline where he tried to con the two for money, but the Guardians end up getting a little bit of help to get rid of him.
- Rudy, in The World of Lily Wong.
- In his creation of/expansion of the barely canonical "Aceria" note on the Discworld, A.A. Pessimal drops the back-story that the Sto Kerrigian colony in Aceria transferred ownership to Ankh-Morpork, not because of a war but because the King of Ankh-Morpork and the Chief Burger of Sto Kerrig had a gambling addiction that got out of hand. A session of Cripple Mr. Onion between the two Heads of State reached the point where they were betting whole colonies on the turn of a card. Thus, the city and colony of New DamHamster became New Ankh-Morpork in seconds, based on a bad hand. note .
- Elsewhere in the Pessimal canon, a hapless addicted gambler realises, in a sudden epiphany, how to make it work for him, and becomes both comfortably rich and barred from bookies' shops, casinos and racetracks as his notoriety grows. The punter is not meant to win, after all. The addicted gambler discovers he cannot beat the system, and his actions have a sting in the tail, in The Bet's the Thing.
- In The Power of the Equinox, Scootaloo's adoptive mother Vibrant Glow is this. It has left the family mired in debts as well as led to the degeneration of their homelife, like Scootaloo's adoptive father Brutus Meadows becoming an abusive drunk.
- In Risk It All, Ren falls on the more minor end of this trope. He became hooked on gambling after winning a hundred dollars from a poker game with his co-workers, joining games at back alley gambling dens before moving up to casinos in hopes of earning money for himself and his parents. Luckily, he's good enough to make a tidy profit, but all of it goes down the drain when he gets shot and put in a coma. He initially swears to give up gambling after seeing how his habit nearly killed him, but soon finds that his new superpowers revolve around it.
- In the Super Mario Odyssey fic 25m Distance Between Us, Mario is a recovered gambling addict. He grew up poor and, in his search for money, ended up getting into gambling. His girlfriend Pauline helped clean him up.
- In Armageddon, Chick is taken to NASA mission control by the government agents while playing craps in Las Vegas, and when discussing their material rewards for accomplishing the mission, Harry says that Chick wants an all expenses paid vacation in a luxury suite in Caesar's Palace, and on the astronauts' day of rest before boarding the shuttles, he goes to talk his ex-wife and son for what may be the last time, and it's heavily implied that his gambling addiction is the reason why they got divorced, and how she successfully sued to deny him custody and visitation rights.
- The main character in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (among his many other addictions).
- In Bet Your Life, Sonny is a gambling addict who is deep in debt to loan sharks. When he is given $5000 in complimentary chips at the Tower Casino, he tells himself that he should just cash the chips and walk out. He can't.
- The title character of Bob Le Flambeur ("Bob the Gambler") is a Gentleman Thief and an all-around great guy, except he's hopelessly addicted to gambling, which he does all day and night, and even has a slot machine in his apartment that he is shown playing several times during the film.
- California Split: Both main characters could adequately be described thusly. Charlie literally does nothing but gamble, and will bet on anything. Bill, who gets sucked into Charlie's lifestyle, winds up losing his job, falling deep into debt, and hocking his car and possessions, so he can get a bus ticket to Reno and gamble some more. Their fates are different: Bill realizes he has a problem and that he can't sustain his lifestyle; Charlie also recognizes his habits are ultimately unfulfilling, but has made peace with them.
- In Canyon Passage, George is a compulsive gambler, to the point of it being his Fatal Flaw. Logan and Lucy both try to get him to stop but to no avail. He starts Stealing from the Till to cover his debts and ultimately commits murder to prevent his thefts from being uncovered.
- Harry in The Con is On. She and Peter end in their current fix because she loses almost all of Irina's loot in a poker game. What little is left, Peter spends on drugs.
- Philip Leonides in Crooked House. He is living in the family home because his father bailed him out of gambling debts, and returning home was the price he had to pay. He even rolls a dice to decide if he'll answer Charles' questions.
- In A Cure for Pokeritis (1912), possibly the first depiction of poker on film, a Henpecked Husband pretends to join a fraternal lodge so he'll have a cover story for when he goes out to play poker.
- Scott Whitlam in The Dry. He moved to the remote country town of Kiewarra to escape his creditors, but they manage to track him down. He spends all of his evenings shoveling coins into the poker machines in the local pub.
- The 1985 film Fever Pitch stars Ryan O'Neal as a sports writer with a severe gambling addiction, which gets him in trouble with many loan sharks.
- The 1993 film Flirting Scholar has a few examples played for laughs. The main character's eight wives make his life hell due to their addiction to Mahjong gambling. Another the main character's brother steals his paintings to pay off gambling debts.
- James Caan's The Gambler (1974) is the definitive masterpiece.
- In Heat, Chris Shiherlis, a member of Neil McCauley's crew, spends all of his reward money from their heists gambling in Las Vegas and betting on the Super Bowl. It's why his marriage is falling apart.
- The Heist (1989): Dancer is a compulsive gambler who keeps making bets based on anything he can interpret as a omen; no matter how unlikely.
- Hollow Triumph: Only after he has taken over Dr. Bartok's life does Johnny discover that Bartok had a gambling problem and is deep in debt.
- In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, both the title character and the Devil. While the Devil controls their relationship, he also gives up several opportunities to win because it would end their game.
- Chaucer in A Knight's Tale arrives on the scene naked, due to losing everything gambling. He loses them again at the very next tournament and goads the others in a group to bet everything they have on William in yet another tournament.
- In Little Miss Marker Shirley Temple's father doesn't have $20 to bet on a horse, so he leaves Shirley with the bookie as collateral. When the horse doesn't win, he kills himself rather than scrounge up $20 to reclaim Shirley.
- In Michael Clayton, Michael has a gambling problem that he tries to keep under control by never gambling more money than he has. He gets into trouble with a loan shark because he invested all his money in his brother's restaurant so he had to borrow more to keep up his gambling habit. It is also implied that his gambling addiction is the reason he works as The Fixer for a shady law firm as it is the only way he can earn enough to keep gambling.
- Molly's Game: Many of Molly's clients fall under this trope. Molly herself is also addicted to the gambling scene, albeit as the one who organizes it rather than playing.
- The Old Dark House (1963): Most of the Femms have idiosyncrasies that help them cope with their ancestor's will forcing them to return to his house every night. Casper's are going to a gambling club and playing cards every day.
- Owning Mahowny, a 2003 film based on the real-life story of a Canadian bank manager who embezzled money from accounts to support his gambling addiction.
- Given the setting of the movie as an underground poker world, many of the characters in Rounders.
- Only Worm might be an actual addict. Mike is able to walk away after he loses his stake and Joey Knish is a very disciplined player, delivering an impassioned speech specifically about not taking unnecessary risks lest he be unable to feed his family.
- Savages Crossing: Phil is a killer psychopath who bankrupted his family because of his gambling addiction.
- Dr. John Watson is heavily implied to be one in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel. This was taken from the original stories.
- Frankie Four Fingers from Snatch. definitely falls under this category. Every single character that knows about his gambling tries to either desperately keep him from it, or trick him into it. He's called Four Fingers for a reason.
- The Sting: Hooker is one. After completing a successful con, he blows his entire cut on a (rigged) game of roulette despite being told to lay low. This has the result of alerting the Big Bad to his identity, leading to his friend Luthor's death. A conversation with another character indicates that this is a common problem of his. At the end of the film, he turns down his share of the take with the statement that he'd probably just blow it away again.
- Creator/Jamesarner's character in Support Your Local Gunfighter cannot keep or win a dime for all his gambling. Until the very last bet he makes and wins, making him and his new bride extremely wealthy.
- In Ten Dead Men, Harris is a gambling addict and alcoholic who drinks to forget his gambling losses. This combination of vices means none of the gang think it strange when he drops off the radar for a couple of days.
- Uncut Gems revolves around a jeweler which just can't stop gambling (specifically on basketball), to the despair of his girlfriend, his friend - and his creditors. After he makes the biggest sale of his life, he still redirects the $175,000 into a complicated gamble. While it does pay off into $1.2 million, it also leads a mobster to shoot the guy in the face before he can collect it.
- The Walking Dead (1936): Comic Relief character Betcha keeps offering bystanders on anything from the outcome of a trial to whether he catches the next green light. He doesn't win a single bet he makes in the entire film.
- Anonymous Rex: Vincent Rubio is one. And he's really bad at it: he bets large amounts of money on games he doesn't even know, leading to him becoming indebted to a vicious criminal in the second book.
- Phillipe Bridau from Honoré de Balzac's The Black Sheep / La Rabouilleuse, who not only loses all his own money but steals all his family's money and loses that too, becoming (temporarily) destitute. Also from this book, Madame Descoignes, who, in contrast, only spends what she can afford but still puts most of her spare money on the French lotteries.
- The Crossing: A celebrity plastic surgeon has been forbidden access to his money due to a severe gambling problem. This forces him to do stuff like hand over valuable watches to the people who are blackmailing him. The handover of the watch then leads to five murders.
- In Men at Arms, Lord D'Eath is an Impoverished Patrician because his father insisted on playing Cripple Mister Onion despite being unable to tell the difference between a one and an eleven.
- In Mrs Bradshaw's Guidebook to the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygenic Railway, Mrs Bradshaw's description of the racing town of Shankydoodle includes mention of those unfortunates for whom an occasional flutter has turned into a desperate flap.
- The Gambler, a novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky is the story of a young tutor who gets hopelessly addicted to playing roulette. Dostoyevsky was himself a gambling addict and wrote the book in just 30 days to pay off a gambling debt.
- Morley Dotes from the Garrett, P.I. novels was this trope in the early part of the series, which is why he so often had to assist Garrett on a case to pay off his debts.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire gives us Ludo Bagman, a Ministry of Magic official who's introduced running a betting pool at the Quidditch World Cup. He then acts as a minor Red Herring, offering to help Harry in the tournament for reasons he keeps to himself. It turns out that, in George's words, "he's lost everything gambling. Hasn't got two Galleons to rub together." He wanted to help Harry because he was betting on him to win the tournament, and the winnings would have squared his debt with goblin bankers. Since Harry draws with Cedric instead of winning outright, Bagman goes on the run.
- In the Mahabharata, this is Yuddhisthra's one Fatal Flaw. He ends up betting his kingdom, his brothers, and their shared wife in a dice game, which proves to be the last straw in the rising conflict between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
- Mr. Farebrother in George Eliot's Middlemarch, who's actually quite good at whist and can supplement his paltry income by betting. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't somewhat scandalous behaviour for a churchman. When his income increases, he gives up.
- Little Nell's grandfather in Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop believes that his gambling is an investment in Nell's future that's bound to pay off and provide for her once he dies. He borrows from Quilp to sustain his habit, leading to the loss of the eponymous shop when Quilp realizes his problem and forecloses on the loans. His constant relapses, and Nell's attempts to keep him from temptation, lead to their exile from London and inability to settle in one place for most of the rest of the book.
- Duncan Wedderburn in Alasdair Gray's Poor Things, during his elopement with Bella, visits a casino in Frankfurt and thinks he's worked out a system for roulette. At first, he wins large sums but inevitably loses it all the next day. Then he thinks his true strength is in card games but gets cleaned out by sharps. For the rest of the trip, he gambles away any money he's given at the first opportunity.
- In Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, George McIntyre racks up huge debts to the Ganymede Mafia owing to his addiction to betting on illegal giant snail fights.
- Another example from ancient India, Dated to 1,100 BCE or older.: Mandala 10, Hymn 34 (sometimes titled "Invocation of the Dice") of the Rig-Veda is the lament of a gambling addict who has lost all his property, including his wife, in games of dice.
(...) When I resolve "I will not play with them, I will remain behind when my friends depart",
and the brown dice, thrown on the board, have rattled, like a girl in love I seek the place of meeting.
The gamester seeks the gambling-house, and wonders, his body all afire, "Will I be lucky?"
The dice run against his desire, giving the best throws to his adversary...
- Cal Hotchkiss in River of Teeth is unable to Know When to Fold 'Em at the cards table. His introductory chapter involves him getting his left ear cut off for cheating at cards, but the first chance he gets to play again after that, he's back to trying to cheat. It swiftly ends in him getting thrown out the window to be eaten by feral hippos.
- In Robert E. Howard's "Shadows In Zamboula", Conan the Barbarian claims to be this, that he hired his room in advance to avoid losing the money to do so at the gambling table.
- Sherlock Holmes: Possibly Dr. Watson, who admits to spending "about half [his] wound pension" betting on the races. An earlier story also mentions that Watson's checkbook is kept locked in Holmes' desk and thus can only be accessed with Holmes' permission, which was a common Victorian method for people who know they have gambling or spending problems to keep from spending or wagering more than they can afford. Although in the story we learn about the checkbook, we also learn Watson has decided not to invest in a South African gold mine, so clearly he has some control over his addiction.
- Saki's "The Way to the Dairy" has a trio of sisters try to persuade their rich aunt not to leave money to a nephew of hers who is one of these. Unfortunately, they decide to do so by taking her to a casino the nephew frequents— and she turns out to really, really enjoy it...
- Revolting Rhymes: In "Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs", the dwarfs are compulsive gambling addicts how often go without food because they bet everything they have on horse-races. Things go better when Snow White steal the wicked Queen's mirror and asks it which horse will win.
- All in the Family: In the 1974 episode "Archie the Gambler," Edith reveals that in his younger days, Archie was a hardcore gambler, his habit nearly costing them everything; he had already gambled away his car, and was this close to gambling away their house. In the latter instance, Edith puts her foot down and gives him an ultimatum: Stop gambling now, or I leave and I'm taking our daughter (Gloria, who was only 3 at the time) with me. Archie shapes up ... or — as evidence strongly shows in this episode — did he just get better at concealing his gambling?
- On The Almighty Johnsons Mike is an interesting variation. As the incarnation of the Norse god of the hunt, he cannot lose at games. However, if he uses his powers to gamble, he is quickly unable to stop and keeps on winning and winning. This obviously makes the people he plays against extremely suspicious. After one night of this, he is banned for life from the local casino and has to find underground gambling establishments to play in. The people playing in those types of places are just as unhappy about his winning streak and much more likely to employ violence. It does not help matters that when Mike is winning he becomes extremely arrogant and seems to subconsciously pick fights with dangerous people like bikers and ex-convicts.
- In Archie Bunker's Place, there was an episode called "Barney the Gambler," where Barney is now the hopeless addict, and it is up to Archie — who does manage to quit gambling for good in the former episode (in fact, several referbacks are made to "Archie the Gambler") — and Murray to come to Barney's rescue when bookies want to beat Barney to within an inch of his life when he doesn't have the money.
- Nick Yemana's gambling is a Running Gag in Barney Miller. He doesn't get into the financial distress common to this trope, but he's always reading the racing papers, annoys Barney with his habit of placing bets from the phone in the squadroom, tries to get tips on what horses to bet on from a suspect whose multiple personalities include a bookie, and is incredibly interested in the equipment confiscted from a synagogue that had extended their permitted "Las Vegas Weekend" event to a period of months. There's also the incident where Harris bets him he can't give up gambling (in exchange for Harris giving up smoking) and Harris gets him at the end with the phrase "I bet they don't."
Nick: You're on!
Harris: [lighting up in self-satisfaction] You lose.
- In an episode of Black Books Bernard Black is introduced to horse racing by Manny, promptly develops a full-blown gambling addiction and loses £20,000 in a poker game. Fortunately, Fran turns out to be a bit of a Card Sharp and manages to win it back.
- Booth from Bones starts the series in recovery, having gone through a 12 step program. Although it gets brought up from time to time, it doesn't become a major plot point until he relapsed and Brennan briefly kicked him out of the house in season 10.
- Lloyd in Breakout Kings. His gambling seems to have played a major part in how he ended up in prison in the first place and causes him a lot of problems while he is inside.
- Chief Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, despite his straight-laced attitude, admits he had a gambling addiction from way back. He claims that he's kicked it, but he does relapse from time to time. His outlet for the urges seems to be his frankly insane levels of competitiveness he sometimes indulges in.
- Nate Westen from Burn Notice was characterized this way early on. He was in a good deal of debt, and couldn't be trusted with money because he would just gamble it away. He once gambled away his brother's rental car. In later seasons he seems to have gotten his act together once he gets married and has a son. However, after Nate is killed his mother discovers that Nate owes a lot of money to some very bad people.
- Chicago Hope's Jack McNeil spent most of his tenure on the show struggling with his addiction, often relapsing under times of stress.
- The victim of the Cold Case episode "The River". He got so heavily addicted to gambling on card games that he became financially ruined in spite of working as a rather well-paid surgeon.
- Has become a trend on Coronation Street, with almost half a dozen examples in as many years.
- One of the UnSubs on Criminal Minds was a hopeless gambler who kills a Loan Shark and subsequently has great luck in the casino. When his lucky streak ends he kills another person and his luck seemingly returns. This convinces him that he has a superpower that makes him lucky if he kills someone he knows.
- CHiPs Season 1 has an episode "Rainy Day" which guest star Herb Edelman was this.
- Warrick from CSI. In one episode, a rookie dies on his watch because he leaves the scene to place a bet.
- ...and by 'one episode', we really mean the friggin' pilot!
- Nell's grandfather in Dickensian, as in The Old Curiosity Shop, although the moneylender he's in hock to is Jacob Marley.
- The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Measure Twice", the Victim of the Week turns out to have been a regular player at an illegal poker game (the kind of thing the police would normally turn a blind eye to). While he wasn't a gambling addict, at least one of his opponents was, having recently lost his brand new car to the victim, which made him an extremely viable suspect.
- An episode of Dragnet 1967, "The Big Gambler", had Friday and Gannon find one when a businessman reports someone's embezzled $100,000 of company funds. Turns out the thief played both the horses (illegally through a bookie) and draw poker (at the time, legal in some cities outside of Los Angeles). He was a hopeless loser at both, and hiding the addiction from his wife by claiming he had a family in Ohio to support and a second job to help pay the bills.
- Dave Charnley from Drop the Dead Donkey. Every time he tries to quit, Jerkasses Damian and Henry set out to sabotage him by constantly offering him bets.
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Oldest son Matthew becomes this after a few lucky games of poker. His reason is actually legitimate—he wants/needs money to provide for himself and his fiancee.
- Father Ted:
- The title character is heavily implied to be one. The reason he's stuck on Craggy Island is because he embezzled funds earmarked for sending a sick child to Lourdes in order to finance a trip to Vegas. Throughout the series he's continually making side bets.
- One-off character Father Billy O'Dwyer from "Think Fast, Father Ted" is also one. Already deep in debt, he can't resist buying a ton of Ted's raffle tickets and getting even deeper in debt, which he solves by stealing the raffle proceeds.
- One episode of The Golden Girls has Dorothy being this, upsetting Sophia. According to Sophia, Dorothy had been this once before, which got her deep in debt. And she wasn't the only one. From Sophia's account, Salvador, Sophia's late husband, "was a gambler right up to his dying days."
- Harrow: One of Quinn's many nasty habits was gambling, and he owed money all over town. Nichols remarks that there are plenty of loan sharks and ex-friends he owed money to who would make for potential murder suspects, but also that Quinn never borrowed more than a couple of thousand from any one source, and that kind of sum is scarcely worth killing over.
- Barney in How I Met Your Mother is repeatedly portrayed as a gambling addict, whether it's playing a Chinese game at a casino, betting on sporting events, or just accepting any challenge that comes his way. On one occasion, he actually commented how a certain activity (namely, seducing a woman while wearing overalls) was impossible. He then immediately said, "Challenge accepted!"
Marshall: I bet you fifty bucks that you can't finish the marathon.
Barney: Well, gee, grandpa — with that money, I can buy an ice cream cone! I bet you ten thousand dollars!
Marshall: You have a gambling problem, you bet me fifty dollars.
Barney: Fine, then no bet— Okay, deal.
- Albert Stroller in Hustle. Albert's gambling habit has landed the crew in more than one scrape and is implied to be a major reason why he has never retired from grifting.
- Inspector George Gently: The wife of the Victim of the Week in "Gently Among Thieves". Deeply in debt to Loan Sharks, they come to an 'arrangement' with her that essentially amounts to prostitution.
- Detective Ed Green on Law & Order liked to play poker in Atlantic City for some pretty high stakes (one game had him start "up a Cadillac" and end "down a Rolex - a stainless steel Rolex"), though this seemed to fade as the show progressed. After he finds out about his ex-partner's death, he starts hitting the New York City illegal gambling circuit. It almost costs him his badge when he gets mixed up in a shooting involving some of the gamblers he fell in with.
- Detective Amanda Rollins is a gambling addict on Law & Order: SVU. It compromises her on more than one case and eventually, she starts attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
- Gerry in Luck. He's a whiz at horse racing, but a terrible poker player, blowing all of his track winnings on cards.
- A subplot in season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is Susie developing a gambling problem after accompanying Midge on tour to Vegas. She continues gambling when she returns to New York, to the point where even her bookie suggests she take a break after a loosing streak. It climaxes in the finale, when she loses all her money AND all Midge's money (which she was supposed to be managing) betting on boxing. She ends up burning her recently deceased mother's house down to collect insurance money so she won't have to tell Midge.
- Joe Tranelli in Men of a Certain Age. Many episodes focus on the consequences of his gambling addiction, for good or ill.
- Switek from Miami Vice develops a gambling problem after Zito is killed by an Oswaldo Guzman in the third season. The problem compounds as the show goes on and never goes away. It actually manages to get worse when he sells Crockett and Tubbs out in the Series Finale.
- Midnight Caller: Deacon's girlfriend from "Blood Red" can't stop gambling even when she's hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because it's the only thing that makes her feel alive.
- On Mom Christy discovers that in addition to her other problems she is also a gambling addict. She theorizes that she has always been addicted to gambling but her alcoholism generally took precedence and left her too poor to seriously gamble. Now that she has put her life back together has is able to save up money, gambling is becoming a serious issue for her. Her Gambler's Anonymous sponsor suggests that it is a symptom of her low self-esteem. Whenever things go good for her, she has a need to gamble so her life will go back to being a mess. When she is poor and depressed, her need to gamble goes away.
- Motive: One Victim of the Week in "The Amateurs" is a compulsive gambler. He has been reduced to gambling in underground mahjong dens run by the Triads because he has been banned from every other joint in town. As a result, he is deeply in debt to the Triads when he is murdered.
- The Victim of the Week in the Murder, She Wrote episode "Lone Witness" was a gambling addict who had reached the point where she was trying to place bets on credit while her bookie was asking for the money she already owed.
- My Name Is Earl:
- Earl is asked to help Kenny become more Rated M for Manly following a breakup. One of the things they do is gambling, and Kenny develops an addiction and loses all his possessions. Earl is not much better, either; he too becomes addicted, and his compulsive gambling indirectly causes his friend Catalina to be deported. Kenny eventually seeks treatment at a support group. Earl doesn't, but he really hasn't gambled since.
- There's also Earl's ex-mother-in-law, Connie. Earl had (with help from Randy) won a brand new Dodge Neon to give to Joy (to make up for all the thoughtless, crappy Christmas gifts he gave her when they were married), and Connie drove the car to the local Indian Casino and lost it. She also gambled away her husband's business, after getting him to sign it over to her, and gambled away their savings (her husband thought she was using the money to pay for dialysis.)
- Pearl Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a weakness for gambling, particularly slot machines. It even comes into play in one episode when Mike challenges her to a Shell Game and ends up winning his choice of the movie that he and the 'bots will watch. He picks Hamlet, but ends up getting more than he expected.
- NUMB3RS: Larry is revealed to have been one in the season two episode, "Double Down". This came up when a former colleague was involved in a scheme of card counting, same as they did when they were younger.
- Oscar Madison of The Odd Couple (1970). He's perennially broke due to all the money he loses, so he repeatedly borrows and, on rare occasions, outright steals large sums from his friend Felix.
- Kevin from The Office (US).
- Max Holden on One Life to Live, who within a few short months, went from a blissful newlywed to someone who nearly destroyed his business, his friendship with his partner, and his marriage with his rapidly developed addiction.
- An episode of Promised Land 1996 had the Greene family trying to help one of these, whose problem had become so severe that his car had been repossessed, his life was being threatened by bookies, and he was bordering on becoming abusive to his daughter when she refused to give him the money he had given her to save to pay the rent.
- Alan Townsend in Reaper. He can't stop himself from gambling even when he knows that it would void his deal with the Devil and send him straight to Hell.
- Toby Curtis from Scorpion. His skill as a behaviorist helps him in reading the other players, but he can never quit while he's ahead.
- On Seinfeld Kramer seems to have a gambling problem, though that only comes up in the one episode where it's a major plot point (though it was arguably alluded to in another, earlier one).
- David Scatino from Season 2 of The Sopranos. Even worse for him, the people he gets into bed with are The Mafia. After a few bad poker games, they basically take over his whole business and drive him into bankruptcy.
- Loser Protagonist Gi-hun Seong from Squid Game. After losing his job to mass layoffs and watching a coworker get beaten to death by riot police right in front of him, the subsequent trauma leads to him developing a crippling gambling addiction that ruins his life. His wife leaves him for a well-off businessman and takes their daughter, and Gi-hun's stuck living with his aging mother in a small apartment while stealing what little money they have to feed his addiction or fend off the Loan Shark he owes. He joins the Deadly Game in the hopes of using the prize money to win his custody battle and avoid being mutilated by his creditors, but tries to escape only to discover that his mother's dying from untreated diabetes because he cancelled their insurance in order to have more gambling money.
- In Stan Lee's Lucky Man, the title character Harry is a compulsive gambler whose addiction has destroyed his marriage and left him millions of pounds in debt to a Triad casino owner. The plot kicks off when a woman gives him a Tang Dynasty bracelet that grants supernatural luck. Among the roller coaster of events that unfolds, it helps Harry kick his addiction because it's not gambling if you always win.
- On Suits one of Harvey's clients is a gambling and alcohol addict who went Off the Wagon in an Atlantic City casino. The man lost 3 million dollars on a single hand of poker. A horrified Harvey then finds out that the gambler obtained the chips by using his 34 million dollar company as collateral for a loan. The man wanted to gamble so badly that he could not even wait to have money transferred to him from his bank and made a ludicrous deal with a total stranger.
- Toby from Switched at Birth is a teenaged version.
- The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Fever" featuring a man who abhors gambling travels to Las Vegas with his wife (who won a contest) and is forced by a drunk to put a dollar token into a slot machine, and winds up winning some money. Despite his efforts to run away from the slots, he hears the slot machine literally calling his name, and winds up addicted to the point where he thinks it's alive, and he might be right.
- The Victim of the Week in a Without a Trace episode turned out to have been trying to help a friend who was afflicted with this, to the point that they were pulling illegal stunts to obtain the money to pay off his debts.
- In Next (2020), programmer Sean Akers is a gambling addict, which makes him easy prey for Next, who offers him tips on how to win at games in exchange for attaching a wireless router to its mainframe, allowing it to connect to the Internet.
- The Alan Parsons Project made Turn of a Friendly Card, essentially an entire album loosely based on this trope.
- The classic song "House of the Rising Sun" has the male singer relating his depressing life and his slide into gambling addiction and habit of picking up prostitutes at the eponymous house of ill repute in New Orleans.
- Motörhead's "Ace of Spades", which practically became their Signature Song.
You know I'm born to lose and gambling's for fools.But that's the way I like it, baby,I don't wanna live forever!And don't forget the joker!
- Jimmie Rodgers 'Mother, The Queen of My Heart'' involves a man who, against their mother's dying wishes, takes up gambling as a pastime and eventually bets all of his money in a card game. He does end up winning but gives them to a newsboy out of guilt.
- Kenny Rogers' signature song "The Gambler" details the train-rider narrator having a conversation with a man of this sort.
- Warren Zevon's song "Send Laywers, Guns and Money" describes a "down on his luck" gambler humorously pleading for help while on the run (presumably from creditors, among others) in Latin America.
- In Cuphead, the eponymous character has a gambling problem, the Devil offering him all the treasure in Hell if he wins was too tempting to pass up, and having lost ends up getting him and his brother Mugman into quite a mess.
- Shows up as a negative quirk in Darkest Dungeon. Characters who develop a gambling addiction can only reduce Stress by gambling.
- Before the zombie outbreak hit, Javier Garcia from The Walking Dead: Season Three was a professional baseball player with a serious gambling problem, which eventually became so severe that he was kicked out of the major leagues for it.
- Dragon Quest:
- In Dragon Quest IV, Maya's gambling addiction leads her to spend all of her sister Meena's fortune-telling profits at Endor's casino, leaving them stranded in the city until The Hero arrives to recruit them for his quest.
- Dragon Quest V: Tuppence loves gambling a bit too much, although he knows he's not that good at it.
- Implied in Fallout: New Vegas. At the old Mormon fort the Follower of the Apocalypse use as an outpost to provide relief to Freeside, quite a few gamblers can be found receiving treatment.
- Vault 21 was a Vault composed entirely of gamblers who settled everything through games of chances. As far as Vaults went, they actually managed to sustain their way of life for a long time until the day they encountered Robert House, who won the rights to their Vault in a game of Blackjack and converted it into a casino.
- Makalov, from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Both he and his sister Marcia lost their jobs in the Begnion Army because of his gambling (and the huge debts he got into).
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, Roman's gambling debt puts himself into trouble with the mafia and being a reason Niko came into the country.
- Many characters in Grim Fandango are exemplars of this trope, none more so than everyone's favorite Speed Demon.
Manny: I don't think their place is any more "V.I.P." than ours, do you?
Glottis: I don't know, I-I-I t-try to stay away from t-that p-p-place...
Manny: Really? Why?
Glottis: 'Cause of my... my... My Problem.
[sounds of running feet fading into the distance]
- In Octopath Traveler, Russell the scholar is in debt from gambling, which is why he steals and sells tomes from the library.
- Persona 5:
- Youji Isshiki, Futaba's uncle, is in debt from heavy gambling and failed business ventures, which is why he tries to shake down Sojiro for money. His Shadow reveals that he felt quite a rush when he got his first win, and you can respond by calling him a gambling addict.
- Futaba's Childhood Friend Kana was forced by her Abusive Parents to become a Fanservice Model, keeping her out of school to earn money to pay off their gambling debts in lieu of them simply getting jobs. After the Thieves change their hearts, they admit that it started as them just wanting to put food on the table for her but it spiraled out of control.
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky is host to an Octillery explorer who - once the café opens early in the game - will subsequently spend all her time there continuously trying to win that Big Prize Draw run by Wynaut and failing. She knows she shouldn't continue but does so anyway!
- In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it's mentioned that gym leader Maylene's father is a neglectful gambling addict.
- Pokémon Black and White introduces us to Grimsley, a Dark-type trainer and member of the Unova Elite Four. According to developer interviews, as a child, he was the son of a wealthy family that lost their fortune and fell into poverty. This led to him betting on Pokemon battles in an attempt to regain his family's wealth; by the time he reached adulthood, he had become a full-blown gambling addict. He reappears in Pokémon Sun and Moon with Exhausted Eye Bags and grey streaks in his hair, presumably due to money-related stress.
- In The Sims 3, you can make a character this by having them have a blackjack table or slot machine which they constantly play (or to take it Up to Eleven, put the Lucky Simoleon casino in your town/have your town be Lucky Palms and have your sim hang out there all the time) and/or by buying Lotto Tickets at the grocery store post University Life expansion.
- Jaeyun in Brawlhalla was a very skilled mercenary who would often lose all the amazing riches he made in absurd bets. He hasn't changed much in Valhalla, since he loves making huge anonymous side-bets on himself.
As a soldier of fortune he won treasure beyond counting at least he never counted it himself before he gambled it away.
- Fallen London: With the Heart's Desire ambition being a massive card game, it's only natural those addicted would get involved; and in fact, your final opponent is very much addicted to the game of the Marvelous. And you can use it against him, as the game can keep going and be played again so long as the players keep adding bets and the other ones accept them; with this last enemy, you can just keep playing until you win. And even rub it in his face by betting one penny in what is otherwise an Absurdly High-Stakes Game, and have him accept it anyways. And he hates it. He hates it so much that when you beat him, thus losing him his chance to just cancel the game forever like he wanted, he'll just bet the entirety of his mind and instantly fold, effectively committing suicide because he's tired of how much he loves the damn game. You don't have to accept his bet, either.
- Psychonauts 2: Hollis Forstyhe, acting leader of the Psyhconauts in place of the incapacitated Truman Zanotto, briefly becomes this thanks to Razputin tampering with her mind. During "Hollis' Hospital", Razputin tries to convince her to take him and his fellow interns along on a mission by manipulating her thoughts. This has the unfortunate side effect of convincing Agent Forsythe that gambling can solve the Psychonauts' financial problems, even though she'd be in hot water if she got caught using her psychic powers to cheat. Raz must go back into Agent Forsythe's mind to undo the damage he did, and finds that Forsythe's memories of working in a hospital before joining the Psychonauts have been merged with the motif of a casino to become "Hollis' Hot Streak" (complete with the embodiment of a gambling addiction as the level boss).
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations, Glen Elg, the victim in the third case, had extensive gambling debts, which resulted in him borrowing a lot of money from Furio Tigre, which ties into why he was murdered.
- Ban from Spirit Hunter: NG. Made apparent at the beginning of the Screaming Author case, where he extorts 5'000 yen from Akira and immediately gambles it all away at pachinko. Rosé's comment on the matter suggests this is a recurring problem, which he proves throughout the later chapters.
- Chapter 21 of Furry Fight Chronicles reveals that Cookie got her huge debt because of gambling. Due to lack of income for two years, Cookie resorted to gambling to keep herself going. However, her poor luck made her lose all the money she had, and even get serious debts that she's yet to pay.
- In Impure Blood, evidentially a problem: defaulters are threatened with being thrown into the Gladiator Games next time.
- Dream SMP:
- Played for Laughs in Slimecicle's case. He accidentally gets addicted to using the slot machine in Las Nevadas during his first lore stream, which he calls "a feeling in [his] stomach", to Quackity's annoyance.
- In the Tales From the SMP episode "The Wild West", the banker, Percy, is said to have a gambling problem which, according to John John, depleted his bank vault far more than the loan that he took out to open the saloon.
- Turns out that Arin might well have this problem, shown on the Game Grumps playthrough of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune. There's an option to go to the casino, and Arin naturally goes there, making repeated long-odds bets on 23 with his 'Fortress of Solitude' by stacking tons of chips on and around said choice, eventually coming out with a roughly 60K profit for a net total of over 450K. In spite of that, Danny comes back the next day to a surprise when he finds Arin window-shopping with only 27K left.
Arin: I've got...no money.
Arin: (mumbling into his hands) I spent it all on gambling.
[Danny bursts out laughing]
Arin: But it's okay.
[Danny laughs even harder]
- Hobo Bros: Played for laughs in their playthrough of Super Mario Odyssey. The bros discover a room, which Kevin dubs "the casino", with a slot machine-like minigame that requires 10 coins to play. Kevin gets so determined to win the minigame that he starts to gamble away all their money, to Luke's protest. When they go back out to collect more coins, Kevin makes it clear that he intends to spend them at "the casino". The episode in which this happens is even titled "Gambling is Bad" as a reference to this scene.
- Some of the hololive idols are self-professed gacha addicts of the leviathan-variety, namely Suisei, Fubuki, Polka and Ina. The former two notably got riled up by Subaru when she got confused over their whaling and asked "Isn't [Kalim] just a card?", while Polka once freaked Nene out by sinking so much money into dud pulls right in front of her.
- Jerma985 has a habit of playing Betting Mini Games, sometimes for hours at a time, in any game that offers them, usually ending with losing it all at the end. He also makes superficial bets against his chat, which is how his $2.5 billion "gambling debt saga" started. It might've gotten this bad even since he moved to Las Vegas.
- In American Dragon: Jake Long, this is Fu Dog's biggest vice. In the first episode alone, he bets on how well Jake does against his arch-enemies!
- The Crumpets: Granny is addicted to her computer poker game in the episode "Addicted" and she disturbs her family through the odor of her onion crisps. Her son offers to pay the trip in exchange for her termination of gambling and he gives her his anti-addiction gas remedy. Rather than inhaling the gas, she sells it online to her neighbor, lies to her son that she needs additional vials for her recovery (so she can sell more vials to the neighbor for greed), and preserves her poker addiction.
- In The Flintstones, Fred Flintstone had a severe gambling problem, to the point where simply mentioning the word "bet" in his presence caused him to get a crazy look in his eyes and start repeating the word over and over.
- In a Compressed Vice example, Sir Roderick becomes one in an episode of Gawayn, even gambling away his squire.
- In Hero: 108, Commander ApeTrully displays a problem with gambling in the episode "Crocodile Castle". To win an audience with the king, he has to match 3 yoyo icons on a slot machine, and because all of the slot machines are rigged, he ends up spending a lot of gold and most of his own energy.
- Soccer-themed cartoon Hurricanes has Jackson Black, a casino owner who would take any bet. Stavros Garkos won Black's ecosphere and his soccer-themed resort in a rigged roulette game. Because Garkos had to agree to offer Black a chance to win back whatever he lost, Black decided to bet the Hurricanes would win the upcoming Hurricanes versus Gorgons soccer game. The Hurricanes won. Hurricanes coach Jock Stone considers Black as someone with more money than common sense.
- Kaeloo: Mr. Cat bets on horse races, poker games and other such things fairly often and, depending on the episode, either makes or loses large amounts of money that way. In some cases, he also makes bets which get out of hand and culminate in him being harmed in some way.
- Buck Strickland from King of the Hill.
- In the Legend of the Three Caballeros episode "Thanks a Camelot", Merlin is portrayed as this. (Well, the word "gambling" is never actually used, but he says King Arthur won't let him play games because of his "problem", and he doesn't realise the coins he's winning in the phone game he becomes obsessed with aren't real.)
- The Looney Tunes cartoon "Early to Bet" has a literal gambling bug whose bites causes gambling addiction.
Narrator: Remember folks, the gambling bug will get you if you don't watch out.
Gambling Bug: (mockingly) "Remember folks, the gambling bug will get you if you don't watch out." And I will too.
- An earlier Warner Bros. cartoon, 1938's "Now That Summer Is Gone" has a young squirrel who cannot stop gambling, in spite of his father's orders to stop.
- In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "My Shiny Friend", Stimpy has an addiction to watching television. At the end of the short, he appears to have reformed, but it turns out he switched to...gambling.
- Goofy becomes this in the Disney cartoon "Get Rich Quick". Here, Goofy plays the role of George Geef, who enjoyed spending his hard-earned dough on a chance to make an easy buck, only to get reprimanded by his wife (or worse, have her take his winnings to pay the bills).
- The Simpsons:
- Krusty the Klown is constantly betting on sporting events. Covering these bets has gotten into trouble in several episodes; "Krusty Gets Busted" has Krusty's gambling losses used as a possible motive as why he would commit armed robbery, and in "Homie the Clown" he squanders the money he made from his clown college by betting against the Harlem Globetrotters ("I thought the Generals were due!"), getting targeted by the mafia as a result.
- In "$pringfield" Marge Simpson becomes addicted to slot machines when a casino's built in Springfield, and shows this trait occasionally in subsequent episodes.
- In "Lisa the Greek", Lisa had a nightmare that she might end up becoming one after learning Homer only used her to help him gamble.
- In the South Park episode "Red Man's Greed", Gerald Broflovski loses $37,000 at a Native American Casino, underwritten by the family's house. Later, when the Native Americans threaten to take over South Park, the townsfolk pool their resources and bet it on a single roulette number in a last-ditch effort to save the town. They win, giving them the money they need and a bit extra on top, but Gerald convinces them to let it all ride on another spin, and they lose everything. Stan calls the townsfolk out on this, but Randy just tells him to drop it.