Factors That Increase the Risk of Developing a Gambling Disorder

Factors That Increase the Risk of Developing a Gambling Disorder

Gambling is an activity where individuals risk something of value (often money) in the hope of winning a prize based on the outcome of a game of chance. It is a common recreational and social activity and occurs in many forms. It can be done alone, with friends or family, or through a business. Some examples include playing card games, dice games, bingo or betting on sports events. Many people have a problem with gambling and it can affect every aspect of their lives. Problem gambling can cause emotional distress, relationship difficulties, financial stress and even bankruptcy. It can also lead to unemployment and other serious legal issues. There is no one form of gambling that is more addictive than another; all types can become problematic. However, there are some factors that increase the risk of developing a gambling disorder. These include:

A person who has a gambling problem often spends more than they can afford to lose, experiences frequent disappointments, feels restless or irritable when trying to control their gambling or quit, and lies about how much they are gambling. In addition, they are often preoccupied with gambling and spend excessive time thinking about the next bet or ways to win more money. They may even gamble when they are in distress, such as feeling helpless, guilty, anxious or depressed. They often return to gamble after losing money in an attempt to get even (“chase”) their losses, and may borrow or steal to fund their addiction. A person who has a gambling disorder may also experience withdrawal symptoms and/or compulsive behavior when they try to quit.

The development of gambling disorders has been accelerated by technological change, especially the internet. Gambling websites are now available on mobile devices and allow people to place bets on almost any event, anywhere in the world. This has made it easier for individuals to gamble when they are not at home and has led to an increase in the number of people who have problems with gambling.

Individuals can develop a gambling disorder at any age, but it is more common among young adults and people who are in stressful situations in their life. Men are more likely to develop a gambling disorder than women and it is possible for children as young as seven to have a problem with gambling. Problem gambling can result from all forms of gambling, including lotteries, casino games (e.g. slot machines), sports gambling and online gaming.

While some people are naturally predisposed to gambling, others are attracted to the activity because of factors such as curiosity, the desire for an adrenaline rush, and/or a sense of power or status. In addition, the gambling industry promotes its products by portraying them as fun, sexy and glamorous. This can be particularly attractive to people who are depressed, grieving or experiencing loneliness and isolation. In some cases, these feelings are exacerbated by the availability of alcohol and other drugs.