Gambling Disorder


Gambling is an activity where people stake something of value for a chance at winning a prize. It can include activities like lotteries, casinos, sports betting and online games. Some people gamble for social reasons – they enjoy it with friends or because it adds to the fun of a social event. Others gamble for financial reasons – they want to win money that can help them solve problems or buy things they want. And some people gamble for pleasure, simply because they enjoy the thrill of winning or the excitement of thinking about what they might do with a big jackpot.

People who gamble use a combination of skill and luck to determine their chances of winning. Skill can help them increase their chances of winning, for example, knowing what cards to hold or which horse to back in a race. But the outcome of gambling is largely determined by chance, and even a highly skilled bettor can have a low probability of winning. This is why it’s important to know your limits. If you start to feel that you’re losing control, stop playing or at least make sure you have a limit in place.

Problem gambling is associated with a variety of negative effects, including: †an individual lies to family members, a therapist or other trusted individuals to conceal the extent of his or her involvement in gambling; †after losing money in gambling, returns another day in order to get even (“chasing” losses); †has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or educational opportunity due to gambling; and †has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement in order to finance gambling (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

If you are concerned that you have a problem with gambling, seek professional help immediately. Counseling can help you understand your problem, think about options and solve problems. There are also many self-help books and websites that can help you change your gambling behaviors. You may also find it helpful to join a support group for problem gamblers and their families.

Although it is not yet clear what causes gambling disorder, researchers are investigating several potential risk factors. For example, recent research suggests that a person’s genetic makeup and personality may influence his or her risk of developing a gambling problem. Moreover, longitudinal studies are the best way to identify factors that moderate and exacerbate gambling participation. The results of these studies can inform the development of improved and more effective treatments for gambling disorders.