Gambling Addiction


The amount of money wagered legally annually worldwide on sports is estimated at $10 trillion, and this number is likely to be higher if one includes illegal activities. The United States and Europe are the most popular places for sports betting, with state-licensed lotteries booming in the late 20th century. Organized football pools are found in almost every European country, as well as in several South American countries and some African and Asian countries. Most countries offer state-licensed wagering on other sporting events.

Problem gambling

Problem gambling is a type of addiction that leads to a wide range of problems, including family, financial, legal, and emotional. It can be mild or severe, and it can continue to worsen over time. Previously, problem gambling was called compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or compulsive disorder. The American Psychiatric Association has now recognized problem gambling as an Impulse Control Disorder. While the exact cause of the problem is unclear, it is believed to involve an urge to gamble excessively.

While problem gambling has been around for centuries, it was not until the 1980s that the term was given a more formal definition and criteria. Emil Kraepelin’s work, published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, dubbed the DSM-IV, first introduced the term “gambling mania.” This classification has evolved over the past 27 years, based on the results of surveys conducted by 222 compulsive gamblers and 104 substance-abusing social gamblers. Researchers conducted cluster analyses of these data to identify nine symptoms.

Pathological gambling

In order to diagnose pathological gambling, a patient must meet five out of 10 criteria outlined by the DSM-IV. Pathological gamblers often exhibit symptoms of affective disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. Another group of disorders related to gambling are known as impulse control disorders, and include pyromania and kleptomania. Each disorder is different, but all three share the characteristic of being addictive in nature.

The diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling include preoccupation with gambling, tolerance, and chasing losses. Pathological gamblers also experience a significant level of anxiety and tension prior to gambling, a condition called anticipatory anxiety. Although this feeling is unpleasant, the fact that gambling is considered a pleasurable activity may be responsible for its initially anxiolytic effect. However, the symptoms of pathological gambling often affect a person’s life negatively, so it is vital to determine whether it is truly pathological.

Legal forms of gambling

Despite the popularity of online gambling, some states still prohibit online poker and other forms of gambling. In states like New Jersey, however, tribal casinos are legal, and the number of legal states is nearly double. New Jersey has the highest tolerance for gambling, while the most conservative state is Utah. Although most states have flirted with regulating gambling, Nevada is notorious for legalizing gambling to bring the state out of the Great Depression. Other states have considered legalizing gambling but have not yet taken the plunge.

Many states allow certain forms of gambling. While gambling may be considered illegal by some states, most state lotteries and bingo are legal in Nevada. Many states also allow scratch-off stickers and bingo, which are similar forms of monetary exchange. Other forms of gambling may be illegal, including poker parties in professional settings, underage gambling, dogfights, and human fight clubs. However, some states legalize certain activities in order to support local businesses or colleges.

Treatment options

While many people resist seeking help for their problem with gambling, treatment options are available to address the addiction. Treatment for gambling addiction can include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, or family therapy. These therapies focus on replacing unhealthy thoughts and behaviors with more beneficial ones. The goal of treatment is to help an individual regain control of his or her life and heal relationships. However, therapy may not work for everyone. In such cases, it is important to seek advice from a professional to determine which treatment options are best for you.

Self-help interventions are another treatment option for gambling addiction. These interventions can help reduce the stigma associated with seeking professional help and enable individuals to focus on their recovery. Self-help interventions, like Gamblers Anonymous meetings, are the most commonly available. Newer forms of self-help interventions include bibliotherapy and self-directed computer therapy. Individuals seeking treatment for gambling addiction may also find help through a support group. Support from family and friends is essential for complete recovery.