Gambling refers to the play of any game where there is money, or something of value at stake. There are many different forms of gambling including horse races, lotteries, casinos, scratch cards, stock market betting, and even more recently internet gambling. Although these games are meant for recreational use, the thrill of gambling causes some people to become so involved in it that they become dependent on gambling. The effects of gambling can cause damage psychologically, be very harmful to one’s social life and can also cause many physical damages.
Gambling addiction and pathological gambling is not always seen as dangerous as other addictions like substance abuse but it can in fact be a very damaging addiction to many aspects of life and should be considered a major health problem. Not everyone who gambles has a gambling addiction or even has the capability of being addicted to gambling. The majority of people who gamble do not have an addiction and simply do it for recreational purposes. But there is a small percentage of people who gamble who are considered problem gamblers or pathological gamblers profitability ratios.
Pathological gamblers is described as, “Pathological gambling is characterized by chronic and irresistible impulses to gamble, with consequent gambling compromises and disruptions to family, personal and vocational pursuits. ” (Coman, Burrows & Evans, 1997) This addiction causes the gambler to gamble very frequently, often times they will begin to make bigger and bigger bets and receiving feelings of anxiety or depression when they are not gambling.
Pathological gambling can also include gambling to recover losses from previous gambling episodes, lying to family members to try and hide their habits, committing criminal acts to obtain money for gambling and relying on others to provide money to relieve them from their financial situation. This is a very serious addiction and should be considered a major health problem because it can negatively affect many serious aspects of an individual’s life. There are many different influences and gateways that can lead to gambling and even a gambling addiction.
Although things like scratch cards may not seem like much of a threat to becoming an addiction, they can intrigue the thought of winning money purely by chance which is a dangerous mindset to have. Another factor that can lead to a gambling addiction is the link between the proximity from the casino and gambling participation. Living close to a casino causes much more accessibility and can add to the possibility of gaining an addiction, “additional gambling opportunities due to the presence of a casino increase the prevalence of gambling-related problems for people who live close to a casino, as compared with people who live far from one.
”(Sevigny, Ladouceur, Jacques & Cantinotti, 2008)People who live closer to the casino are much more likely to just “drop by” and play a few hands rather than people who live farther and have to make an evening of it. Accessibility can have a large impact on gaining an addiction to gambling. Also, the recent popularity of poker has a huge impact on the view of gambling for younger people. Poker has become very popular in our society today and is televised quite frequently showing these players not only making a living from this game of chance, but becoming millionaires.
Some of these players are seen as celebrities who can cause some younger audiences to look up to them and strive to be like them. These aspects do not directly lead to a gambling problem but they can definitely help lead to one. Technology has become a large contributory factor to problem gambling. As stated earlier, accessibility can have a large impact on gaining an addiction to gambling and the technology of internet has brought accessibility of gambling to a whole new level.
Gambling over the internet should be a major concern because the increase in gambling opportunities gives the potential for an increase in problem gamblers. Research evidence in other countries has clearly shown that: “where accessibility of gambling is increased there is an increase not only in the number of regular gamblers but also an increase in the number of problem gamblers. ” (Griffiths, 1999) Internet gambling websites has dramatically increased this accessibility which will in turn increase the number of people gambling.
Not everyone is susceptible to becoming a problem gambler, but the more people gambling, the more people who have the chance of becoming addicted. The popularity of internet gambling is on the rise with its easy accessibility and quickness. This popularity itself cannot lead to a gambling addiction but a number of the more popular poker players on television often promote different gambling websites where anyone of any age can play poker online. The websites allow someone to play in tournaments, play with friends and play with fake money or even real money.
They are very appealing to people of all ages and easily accessible all the time which makes them a threat to contributing to problem gamblers and youth gambling. When someone suffers from problem gambling, it is not only that individual that is affected but their family, friends and community as well. There can be some positive aspects of gambling in terms of the social effects of gambling. Gambling can be seen as a recreation, a break from their problems of everyday life and a nice night out. Yet these positive effects only exist if gambling is done in moderation.
Once gambling becomes a habit and a necessity is where the negative impacts arrive. Often, it’s those close to the pathological gambler that suffer the most. Constant gambling takes time away from family, friends and other activities. If gambling becomes a problem, it can cause loss of trust between individuals and family members which can lead to family related problems and even divorce. Generally, the social problems begin with borrowing of money to support their addiction. At this point, many friends and family may lose touch with the gambler.
Being distanced from those who are closest can cause desperation which may lead to criminal activity. Pathological gambling can become so severe that they can resort to criminal activity in a last effort to support their financial needs. People are more likely to commit crime without thinking of the consequences when they are in a desperation mindset which is what can happen after a big loss due to gambling. Supporters for the spread of legalized gambling make claims about economic growth and more jobs but opponents have a strong case saying, “...
various forms of street crimes, such as robberies and automobile thefts, come with gambling, as well as problems with connections to organized crime... The majority of Wisconsin problem gamblers in treatment that were interviewed in Thompson et al. (1999) admitted to crimes as a result of their gambling activity, primarily property crimes. ” (Gazel, Rickman & Thompson, 2001) Pathological gamblers reach a point where there are no options left so they have to resort to illegal means to support themselves displaying the severity and control that a gambling addiction can have.
Having a gambling addiction does not just affect someone economically or socially but it can deeply affect them psychologically. Once a pathological gambler is down money, they will make bets to try and regain that money that they have lost. Instead of cutting their losses, they get deeper into debt, preoccupying themselves with gambling, determined to win big to repay their loans and solve all their problems (Griffiths, 2001). A very dangerous way of thinking is the “what if I win” mentality.
This way of thinking is especially dangerous because then they are more prone to make bigger bets with money they may not have to lose so they can receive bigger rewards. A large factor for whether someone develops this addiction has a lot to do with their personality. The type of personality someone has can have on whether or not someone develops a gambling addiction or not. Gambling is characterized by an “unrealistic optimism by the gambler” (Griffiths, 2001).
For the most part people believe that optimism is a good way to live life by always seeing the positive things instead of dwelling on the negatives. Optimists are known to be less likely to suffer from depression symptoms following a stressful event and seem to have more psychological benefits when compared to pessimists. Although in terms of gambling, optimism can be counterproductive, “Optimists may be especially susceptible to maintaining illusory gambling expectations. Because of their generalized expectations for success, optimists may approach gambling with the belief that they can win.
” (Gibson & Sanbonmatsu, 2004) Optimists may also have a tendency to look at the positive aspects in a situation which may prolong their gambling thinking that they will win it all back. Also, people who are risk takers are more prone to gambling addiction than someone who is more conservative. Not everyone is susceptible to becoming a pathological gambler and a great deal of the matter has to do with their personality type and how they look at different negative situations. Having a gambling addiction not only affects one’s social life but it can have a great impact on your mind and even cause physical difficulties.
Pathological gamblers often suffer from stress-related disorders such as depression, insomnia, intestinal disorders and migraines. Health problems do not only occur from the gambling itself but a significant amount of people suffer problems from the withdrawal, “Rosenthal and Lesieur (1992) found that at least 65 percent of pathological gamblers reported at least one physical side-effect during withdrawal including insomnia, headaches, upset stomach, loss of appetite, physical weakness, heart racing, muscle aches, breathing difficulty and/or chills.
” (Griffiths, 2001) It was also found that pathological gamblers experienced more physical withdrawal effects when attempting to stop than substance abusers who are attempting to quit. This is quite astonishing and again proves why gambling addiction is a very serious matter and should be considered just as much of a health problem as addiction to alcohol or other substances. Pathological gambling can cause great psychological damage and can cause people to do irrational things after a big loss which can sometimes even lead to suicide.
Pathological gambling and suicide have been known to have a link to each other. Suicidal attempts among pathological gamblers are much more frequent than among the general public. The American Psychiatric Association did a study that with these results, “Of individuals in treatment for Pathological Gambling, 20% are reported to have attempted suicide, (American Psychiatric Association (APA))” (Penfold, Hatcher, Sullivan & Collins, 2006) For many gamblers, coping with the negative emotions relating to their issues in their life can be overwhelming.
Feelings of shame, hopelessness and failure may be hard to bear which sometimes makes suicide seem like the best solution for their problems. The damage to the mental aspects is one of the reasons that make pathological gambling so dangerous. The act of gambling and casinos is a very controversial topic. There are some positive aspects to the casino and gambling that include a source of jobs and economic development. Gambling is meant to be for recreational use on occasion but it can also be very dangerous. Certain people with certain personality types and lifestyles may be prone to becoming a pathological gambler.
The effects of pathological gambling can cause a lot of harm psychologically, destroy someone’s social and family life, cause physical damage to themselves which can even lead to their death. Gambling addiction may not be seen as dangerous or likely to happen as other addictions but the results from being a pathological gambler can be just as harmful as other addictions and should be considered just as much as a serious health issue as everything else.