Search for:

Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event in order to win something else of value. It is a form of risk-taking that has a prize as the reward, but it is important to note that this activity is not the same as gambling addiction. The difference is that a person addicted to gambling experiences symptoms of anxiety, depression, and guilt associated with their disorder.

While the majority of people who participate in gambling have a healthy relationship with it, there is a small group of individuals who become too serious about gambling and are unable to control their involvement or limit their losses. This group suffers from negative personal, family, and financial consequences as a result of their gambling activity.

The most common cause of gambling problems is the lack of self-control and the ability to think critically. In addition, some people are predisposed to addictive behavior because of genetics and environment. This makes them particularly vulnerable to developing gambling problems. The onset of problem gambling is usually during adulthood, and the condition can be difficult to treat.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, people with gambling disorders experience a variety of symptoms that can include: [6] Attempts to control or cut back on gambling have been unsuccessful (e.g., attempts to change gambling activities, stop gambling entirely, or reduce the frequency of gaming). Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed); after losing money in gambling, returns another day in an attempt to get even (“chasing” one’s losses); lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling; jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity, or home due to gambling; and resorted to illegal acts (e.g., forgery, fraud, theft, embezzlement) in order to finance gambling.

Managing the effects of problem gambling involves setting boundaries around credit cards and bank accounts, closing online betting sites, putting someone else in charge of finances, and only taking out cash for gambling. It is also helpful to reach out for support and to know that you are not alone; many families deal with this issue.

Although there is growing concern about the social and economic impacts of gambling, there has been very little research addressing the topic. Most studies focus on costs at the personal and interpersonal levels, and a few address community/society level effects, but much more is needed to understand the impact of gambling in both positive and negative ways. This knowledge can be used to formulate public policy on gambling. A public health approach can provide a more balanced evidence base to inform decision making regarding gambling. However, a theoretical model for conducting gambling impact studies is lacking. This is critical to forming an evidence base for this complex and widespread issue. The development of such a model will be an ongoing challenge. It will require a combination of theory and practice, as well as an integrated research framework.