Pathological Gambling

Gambling is an activity in which individuals risk money or something of value on an uncertain outcome, using randomness of chance as the foundation. Gambling activities range from rolling a dice, spinning roulette wheels or placing bets on horse races; historically seen as immoral and illegal, but more people now view gambling as both enjoyable and social activities leading to increased legal regulations regarding it and annual wagers placed.

Step one in gambling involves selecting an object of betting – this could range from picking a team in a football match, or selecting a scratchcard game. Your selection is then paired with odds which define how much money could be won should your prediction prove accurate; once this bet has been placed, a gambler must then decide whether to continue or to stop.

Though gambling may seem like a game of chance, success requires skill and knowledge from its participants. A gambler must know when and how to assess odds before knowing when it is best to walk away; furthermore, other external factors may come into play such as weather.

Many reasons drive people to gamble, such as financial gain or simply to pass the time or ease boredom. Unfortunately, gambling can become addictive and cause serious problems; therefore, it is crucial that people recognize its warning signs and act immediately if they suspect an addiction in themselves or someone close.

One can be diagnosed with pathological gambling when they meet these criteria: a) They continue gambling despite adverse personal, social or family consequences; b) They lie to family members, therapists or others in order to conceal their involvement with gambling; c) They engage in illegal acts (forgery, fraud, theft embezzlement etc) to fund their gambling habits; d) They develop an obsession or preoccupation with gambling; and e) They experience persistent urges to gamble (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

Pathological gambling disorders often coincide with other risky behavior such as alcoholism or drug abuse, risking suicide. They may also experience psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety and poor concentration; cognitive distortions; elevated confidence that their abilities will soon pay off; elevated confidence that can lead to gambler’s fallacy (belief they will recoup losses by gambling again); this distorted thinking often results in trying to chase previous losses despite knowing the odds are against them; cognitive dissonance (difference between perception and reality); increased cognitive dissonance can all contributes.