Why Do People Get Addicted To Gambling?

Gambling is everywhere. (Image: snookerbacker.com)

Gambling is one of the most popular recreational activities to be enjoyed by adults across the world, but sometimes people can become addicted to it. Here is a look at what factors draw people to become addicted to gambling.

The activity of gambling is such a huge phenomenon across the globe. It comes in so many shapes and sizes. People gamble on sports, in casinos, online, privately with friends, and in everyday life. It can involve money, possessions, and even non-physical things such as pride, time, or favors.

However, such is the compelling nature of the gambling beast that it is an activity that can become highly addictive to certain people. In fact, it is one of the most addictive things that people can be addicted to alongside the likes of drugs, alcohol, and smoking. The question is, what factors are in play that can force people to become addicted to gambling?

Early Big Win

One factor that is a reason for gamblers becoming addicted, particularly early on in their gambling life, is the experience of an early big win. The buzz is winning such a large amount can sometimes be overwhelming and the fact it arrives so early means that the player thinks it is easier to land such wins than what it is in reality.

Easy Access To Gambling

Gambling is everywhere. Despite the attempts by certain countries to outlaw different forms of gambling the rise of gambling online has given citizens all over the world the opportunity to find outlets for their desire to gamble. If the opportunity to gamble is more readily available then it will make it more accessible and increase the ease at which players can gamble.

If it is difficult to access gambling opportunities then the effort required to access these opportunities might put some people off before they even get the chance to gamble. Whereas, if the opportunity to gamble is as easy as clicking on a link or putting some money into a machine then the odd flutter can easily turn into a more compulsive activity.

A study by Thomas, Allen, Phillips, and Karantzas (2011) looked into Gaming Machine Addiction: The Role of Avoidance, Accessibility, and Social Support to back claims that easy access to gambling sources increases the risk of gambling addiction.

Failing To Monitor Wins and Losses

This is not something that every gambler will do. Not every player hits the tables at the casino and keeps detailed notes on what wins and losses they endure throughout the course of the session. However, it is important for players to keep a rough idea of how much they have won and lost. Unless this is done, the players might put more focus on the wins and soon forget the losses they suffer. This can create a warped interpretation of how destructive their gambling habits have been.

Personal Stress

In the same manner that turning to alcohol, drugs, or smoking is seen as a release, people can often turn to gambling to seek escapism from their daily troubles. This is especially true if the person in question has recently suffered a bereavement, divorce, job loss, or experienced a similar high-stress situation. The gambling becomes the little bit of emotional freedom they get from the stress that tortures them and instead of maintaining a control on it, they lose track of their wins and losses that can quickly turn very cataclysmal.

Financial Problems

To the person on the outside looking in, this can seem like the most ridiculous way to solve a financial issue. However, to the person in the thick of the predicament, their state of desperation to solve their financial problems so quickly can mean them believing that gambling is the only way out. Instead, unfortunately, it only makes their situation works and the person in question is then forever seeking a loss they cannot make up.

Victims of Abuse

In the same way that gambling is an escapism for those with personal stress, individuals that have endured mental or physical abuse might see gambling as a short term solution to healing the pain they are suffering. It makes them forget about the torture they are enduring and the financial knock-on effects are not considered.

Family History of Gambling Addiction

There is no medical proof that gambling addiction is genetic, but there are suggestions that experiencing a family member or loved one going through gambling addiction can make individuals more susceptible to becoming addicted to gambling themselves.

Biological Composition

It has also been suggested by a study, carried out by Alec Roy et al, called Pathological Gambling: A Psychobiological Study (1988) that certain individuals are born with less amounts of the chemical norepinephrine and they become addicted to gambling to compensate for this chemical imbalance that is only secreted when individuals are subjected to high levels of stress or excitement.

It is still not widely agreed whether gambling addiction is more down to the individual and their biological make-up or if social factors are more of an influence in this day and age. Research led by the Responsible Gambling Trust on behalf of the UK government in 2011 suggested that more needed to be done to regulate gambling in the local communities with particular direction pointed towards the fixed-odds betting terminals.

There is still a lack of conclusive evidence about whether or not gambling addiction is more of a biological or social condition. The risk factors are beyond doubt, but whether the problem of gambling addiction lies with the individual, society, or with the gambling industry itself, remains unanswered.