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A gambling addiction occurs when a person can no longer control the compulsive behavior. Any type of gambling — whether racing, bingo, card games, dice games, lottery, slots, and sports betting — can become problematic.
However, some types of gambling have particular characteristics that may intensify the problem and the consequences. Reports indicate that a significant risk factor may be a fast speed of play.
Types of games where there is a short time between placing a bet and seeing the results present a higher risk for players.
This happens with slot machines, for instance. Increased accessibility, for example, through online gambling, calls for greater awareness and appropriate legislation.
Anyone who provides gambling services has a responsibility to develop policies and programs to address underage and gambling addictions.
If a person suspects they might have a gambling problem, there are a variety of self-tests available on the internet.
Those tests will not give a diagnosis and do not replace a face-to-face evaluation with a trained clinical professional, but they can help people decide whether to seek formal evaluation of their gambling behavior.
A clinical professional will provide a detailed assessment and develop an adequate treatment plan, based on the individual's needs.
Treatment and assistance may need to address various aspects of the person's life, family, education, financial issues, any legal problems, and professional situation.
Anyone who suspects that they have a gambling addiction should seek help. A health provider will be able to refer the person to an appropriate treatment provider.
Advice from the APA for those who care for a person with a gambling addiction includes the following:. Article last updated by Yvette Brazier on Tue 19 June All references are available in the References tab.
Gambling addiction triggers the same brain areas as drug and alcohol cravings [Press release]. Reviewing two types of addiction: Pathological gambling and substance use.
Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34 1 , Overcoming your gambling triggers [Blog]. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 17 9 , Compulsive gambling possibly associated with antiepileptic medication.
Epilepsy and Behavior Case Reports, 2 , What is gambling disorder? Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to us via this website may be placed by us on servers located in countries outside of the EU.
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Reviewed by Timothy J. Gambling addiction comes in many forms, the primary symptom being a craving for gaming. Gambling addiction is a debilitating condition, causing depression and distress.
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If you gamble consistently, however, you'll lose, all the time. Note, of course, that cheating is one way to win, but probably not a very good idea when you consider that the casino might have ties to organized crime.
If you count cards at Blackjack, you'll be asked to leave. Similarly, the idea that you can "figure out" the flat spot on a Roulette wheel will also fail, as the house will change the wheel once you start winning.
That is the ultimate irony of gambling - even if you did have one of these mythical "winning streaks", or if you could find a way to cheat, the casino would usher you out the door before you won too much!
There are other games where your intelligence, and your interaction with others can help you win. Poker and even blackjack, have some interactive features which make it possible to "beat the house", although blackjack remains mostly a probability game.
In Poker, you can "game" your opponent and bluff them and win. Thus, in an informal setting with friends or acquaintances, it is possible for a sharp card player to make money at poker.
However, for the sharp poker player, playing poker is anything but a game, and it is not gambling. As I noted in another article, I had a chance once to meet such a fellow, and it was an education.
He lent me a book about playing poker, and I presumed it would tell me about odds of playing hands, card strategies, and things of that sort. Surprisingly, the book was mostly about how to rope losers into games and keep them there, how to collect on gambling debts, and generally how to use psychology to make money from the game.
The book suggested getting your opponent drunk - making sure his glass was always full, while you drank watered-down drinks.
Once your opponents starts playing sloppily, encourage him to stay in the game, saying things like, "Well, you could always win it back in the next hand!
If that is your goal in life, to con others out of their money from poker, then go for it. However, don't expect to be too popular a guy.
Eventually, folks get wise to your game and stop playing. In the old West, they'd shoot you. It's not much of a life. If you play poker with such folks, expect to lose and lose heavily.
They have all the cards sometimes literally and you have nothing. They will play on your fears and greed like a violin, and fleece you for every nickel.
Needless to say, after losing a few times, I dropped out of "Poker Night. And he was really no friend, as it turned out.
Being an amateur poker player is like being a new car customer. The new car showroom is a machine designed like the slaughterhouses of old Chicago - designed to fleece the customer for his every last nickel.
Sharp poker players are the same way. You may think you can outsmart the car salesman or the card shark, but odds are, you can't. The only way to "win" is not to play in the first place, period.
Casinos are also designed like slaughterhouses. One casino in Vegas even had a conveyor belt to haul people off the strip and deep into the bowels of the casino, like cows to the butcher.
Once inside, you are assaulted with a cacophony of noise and lights and cannot even begin to think straight. Start drinking, and well, you're done for.
Trying to get out of a casino is never easy, which is why fires, such as the MGM Grand, can be so fatal. Exits are not clearly marked, as they do not want to encourage people to leave.
Sporting events, such as football games, horse and dog racing, boxing matches, and the like are other areas where the law of probability might be trumped by experience or knowledge.
Some racing fanatics claim they can study the racing form and figure out who will win a given race, based on the history of the horses, track condition or the like.
The problem with sports betting is that a lot of other people have the same knowledge, and as a result, the odds are always set by what people smarter than you are thinking.
You can learn about the horses, or football players, or whatever, of course. But such an investment in time and energy is not likely to be rewarded by the payoff.
And gambling of all sorts is a huge time bandit. One friend of mine, who liked to "play the ponies" spent every waking minute at the track, when he was not at work.
He gambled away a fortune over the years, spending money on nothing other than his apartment, a Cadillac , and his meals and clothes.
He never married or had a family or did anything else. T he horses were his life. But he never made any money at it, despite the dedication of a lifetime to the "sport".
So, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to educate yourself enough to win at sports betting consistently. And moreover, sometimes these events are rigged or fixed don't act so surprised.
So even if you know all the odds and know all the horses, you can, and will likely lose most of the time. Note also that the tracks and bookies are not operating these enterprises for free.
Each gambling enterprise has to take a percentage of the action in order to profit and profit they do! So it is not enough to merely win a majority of the time - you have to win consistently and win big to offset the overhead costs.
Lotteries are, of course, a purely probabilistic game - and one with amazingly long odds. For a dollar bet, you can potentially win millions.
Of course, the odds of being hit by lightning are lower. As in any form of gambling, playing a lottery ticket once in a while can be entertaining and exciting.
But the problem occurs when this excitement turns into excitement addiction or a compulsion. I've bought a lottery ticket on occasion, as a lark.
What is interesting to observe, is who else buys these tickets. Most of the purchasers are very poor people, poorly dressed, driving run-down cars.
They look as though they can ill-afford to gamble. And instead of buying one ticket, as I do, maybe once or twice a year, these folks are playing the lottery every week, or even every day, buying 10 or 20 tickets at a time - of all different types.
That's a sure thing - compared to a bunch of losing lottery tickets. In terms of probability, the lottery is the ultimate sucker's bet, as the odds are long, and the State takes a huge chunk of the money - more than the Casinos.
Scratch games and smaller numbers games e. These games pay off just often enough to encourage more playing.
However, if you keep playing long enough, you end up broke. Lottery salespeople are encouraged to "pay off" winners of such games with more tickets.
As a result, even if a winner "wins" ten dollars, he usually ends up buying 10 dollars worth of tickets. Eventually, all he is left with is a fist full of losing tickets and grey scratch-off under his fingernails.
What is sad about the whole gambling industry, is that most of the folks gambling can least afford to squander their money this way.
Gambling serves to keep the poor, poor. So what can you do to protect yourself from gambling? Here are some suggestions:. But the best advice about gambling is to leave the risk-taking for other areas of your life.
It never ceases to amaze me that people who will gamble at loser's games like slot machines where you almost never win will be very conservative with their personal investment and purchasing choices where a little education and savvy can make you a winner most of the time.
A chronic gambler will drop thousands of dollars in a slot machine, but not invest in the Stock Market on the grounds it is "too risky".