Is Gambling an Addiction?


A type of wagering wherein one puts something of value at risk in the hope of winning more valuable property or goods. Typically, this involves an element of chance and can include activities like lotteries, games of skill such as poker or blackjack, video slots, instant scratch tickets, racing, animal races, dice and roulett. Gambling is considered an addiction when it leads to negative consequences in a person’s life, including financial losses and relationships.

Problem gambling is a behavioral disorder that affects about 4.1% of the population and has been reclassified in the DSM-5 as Pathological Gambling (PG). Symptoms include compulsive gambling and other forms of risk-taking, lying to family members and others, committing illegal acts such as theft or embezzlement to finance gambling, jeopardizing relationships, jobs and educational opportunities, attempting to recover lost money by engaging in more and more risky gambling activities, relying on credit cards and loans to fund gambling, and pursuing a high amount of wins with the hopes of recouping those losses (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

It’s important to remember that gambling is not a profitable activity. The odds of winning are very low, and you are likely to lose more than you win if you gamble for long periods of time. There are many reasons why people gamble, including social and entertainment factors. Some people enjoy thinking about what they would do with the jackpot if they won, and this can lead to addictive behaviors.

Several factors can contribute to a person becoming addicted to gambling, including the presence of other mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, which can both trigger gambling problems and make them worse. In addition, gambling can become an escape from other stressors, such as job loss or relationship problems.

If you’re concerned about a loved one’s gambling habits, there are some steps you can take to help them break the habit. One is to strengthen your support network, and another is to join a peer-support group. A good option is Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program based on Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of the program is finding a sponsor, which is someone who has been through the same struggle as you and can offer advice and support.

When you do decide to gamble, set money and time limits for yourself in advance and stick to them. It’s also a good idea to only gamble with disposable income, not money that you need for bills or rent. It’s also helpful to limit your online betting by shutting down or locking accounts, removing credit cards from your wallet and leaving them at home, and limiting the number of casino visits you make.