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Avoid isolation. Call a trusted family member, meet a friend for coffee, or go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. Postpone gambling. As you wait, the urge to gamble may pass or become weak enough to resist. Visualize what will happen if you give in to the urge to gamble. Distract yourself with another activity , such as going to the gym, watching a movie, or practicing a relaxation exercise for gambling cravings.

Overcoming a gambling addiction is a tough process. You may slip from time to time; the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and continue working towards recovery. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about different treatment options, including:. Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These are aimed at those with severe gambling addiction who are unable to avoid gambling without round-the-clock support.

Treatment for underlying conditions contributing to your compulsive gambling, including substance abuse or mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD. This could include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Problem gambling can sometimes be a symptom of bipolar disorder , so your doctor or therapist may need to rule this out before making a diagnosis.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT for gambling addiction focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as rationalizations and false beliefs. It can also teach you how to fight gambling urges and solve financial, work, and relationship problems caused by problem gambling.

Therapy can provide you with the tools for coping with your addiction that will last a lifetime. Family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling. These can help you work through the specific issues that have been created by your problem gambling and lay the foundation for repairing your relationships and finances. If your loved one has a gambling problem, you likely have many conflicting emotions.

You may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep your loved one from gambling or having to cover for them. At the same time, you might be furious at your loved one for gambling again and tired of trying to keep up the charade. Your loved one may have borrowed or even stolen money with no way to pay it back. They may have sold family possessions or run up huge debts on joint credit cards. While compulsive and problem gamblers need the support of their family and friends to help them in their struggle to stop gambling, the decision to quit has to be theirs.

As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is seeing the effects, you cannot make someone stop gambling. However, you can encourage them to seek help, support them in their efforts, protect yourself, and take any talk of suicide seriously. When faced with the consequences of their actions, problem gamblers can suffer a crushing drop in self-esteem.

This is one reason why there is a high rate of suicide among compulsive gamblers. If you suspect your loved one is feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U. Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph. One in four people will struggle with mental health at some point in their lives. And with the coronavirus pandemic and troubled economy, many are in crisis right now. More than ever, people need a trustworthy place to turn to for guidance and hope.

That is our mission at HelpGuide. Our free online resources ensure that everyone can get the help they need when they need it—no matter what health insurance they have, where they live, or what they can afford. If you have already contributed, thank you.

Problem Gamblers and their Finances PDF — Guide for treatment professionals on how to help a problem gambler cope with financial problems. National Endowment for Financial Education. National Council on Problem Gambling. In the U.

Canada: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health offers resources and a helpline at Explore the warning signs and symptoms and learn how to stop. What is gambling addiction and problem gambling? The first step is to separate the myths from the facts about gambling problems: Myths and Facts about Gambling Problems Myth: You have to gamble every day to be a problem gambler. Myth: Problem gambling is not really a problem if the gambler can afford it. Myth: Partners of problem gamblers often drive their loved ones to gamble.

However, you may have a gambling problem if you: Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling. Self-help for gambling problems The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. Making healthier choices One way to stop gambling is to remove the elements necessary for gambling to occur in your life and replace them with healthier choices. The four elements needed for gambling to continue are: A decision: For gambling to happen, you need to make the decision to gamble.

Preventing suicide in problem gamblers When faced with the consequences of their actions, problem gamblers can suffer a crushing drop in self-esteem. Will you help keep HelpGuide free for all? Get more help. Print PDF. Myth: You have to gamble every day to be a problem gambler. Counseling, enroll in a public speaking class, join a social group, connect with family and friends, volunteer , find new friends.

As little as 15 minutes of daily exercise can relieve stress. Or deep breathing, meditation, or massage. Look for support. Take over management of your family finances, carefully monitoring bank and credit card statements. Encourage and support your loved one during treatment of their gambling problem, even though it may be a long process peppered with setbacks. When the lottery was disbanded, it was discovered that promoters had made huge sums of ill-gotten gains. The Legislature was riven with accusations of bribery.

By the end of the century, thirty-five states, including California , had in their constitutions prohibitions against lotteries and no state permitted the operation of lotteries. Horse racing was plagued by fraud. The odds and payouts were often faked. The parties taking the bets, known as the bookmakers, often owned horses and were able to influence the race. The second wave of legal gambling, was relatively short-lived. Scandals and the rise of Victorian morality led to the end of legal gambling.

By , virtually all forms of gambling were prohibited in the U. The only legal betting that occurred was in three states which allowed horse racing, but even that number shrank in the ensuing years. There were many types of illegal gambling houses. Some operated openly for many years. They, of course, had to pay protection money to the law enforcement authorities. The great depression led to a much greater legalization of gambling. The antigambling mood changed as tremendous financial distress gripped the country, especially after the stock market crash of Legalized gambling was looked upon as a way to stimulate the economy.

Massachusetts decriminalized bingo in in an attempt to help churches and charitable organizations raise money. Bingo was legal in 11 states by the s, usually only for charity purposes. Horse racing and parimutuel wagering began to make a comeback. The statutes took effect upon adoption by the voters of an amendment to the Constitution in June of During the 's, 21 states brought back racetracks.

New laws and automated systems made horse racing much more honest than during the s. Coincident with resurgence of legal gambling was a crackdown on illegal gambling, in part because illegal gambling had become so prevalent. Theater-goers were treated to newsreels of Mayor La Guardia taking a sledge hammer to slot machines and pushing them off the barge into the city's ocean dump. District Attorney Thomas Dewey ran an aggressive campaign against mobsters who were involved in gambling.

The crackdown in the east had implications for California. Because of the pressure from law enforcement agencies, New York mobsters, including the infamous Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, moved to the West Coast. His role was to expand gaming and bookmaking operations for organized crime. Eventually, publicity was directed on him during an investigation of mob ties with the film unions, forcing him to move to Las Vegas. At the same time, scrutiny also resulted in the closing of the floating casinos.

The most famous was the Rex , a floating casino operated by organized crime that was anchored just outside the three-mile limit of state jurisdiction. Gamblers were taken out to Rex in excursion boats. The Rex and some gaming ships that operated out of San Francisco Bay were eventually closed down by law enforcement authorities. The Nevada Legislature was motivated to build on the tourism boom that was expected in the wake of the completion of Boulder , now Hoover , Dam.

Nevada had a flourishing, albeit illegal, gambling industry prior to the legalization. The move for making gambling legal also grew out of concerns that the flourishing illegal gambling was corrupting law enforcement and prohibition was unenforceable. The Nevada gaming industry was helped by events in California. As stated, the gambling ships that used to leave from California ports were shut down.

Municipal reform in Los Angeles kicked out many of the thriving illegal gambling businesses. These establishments were run by organized crime who moved to Nevada where their skills were desperately needed to launch the new legal gambling industry. Many casinos in Nevada were financed by mobsters. Even though he had an extensive and violent criminal record, Bugsy Siegel was able to get a gaming license.

Most notable of his criminal exploits was his role in arranging the murder of New York mobster "Dutch" Schultz by the infamous "Murder Inc. Part of the reason for Mr. Siegel's success was due to his connection to the underworld. Wartime shortages did not slow down his plans because of his ties to the black market and his political connections. The Flamingo helped establish Las Vegas , rather than Reno , as the destination for high rollers.

Reportedly Mr. Siegel used too much of the mob's money on what was initially a unprofitable operation. Within the year, Mr. Siegel was gunned down at a Beverly Hills mansion. Senate Investigated Mob Influence in Casinos. During the s, the Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce held a number of hearings on criminal influence in the casino industry. The committee was chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver, and the committee is also known by his name. The committee found widespread evidence of skimming, which sheltered gambling profits from taxes.

The prevalence of crime left gaming once again on the verge of a national prohibition. Eventually, the mob sold their casino interests to lawful individuals and publicly-traded companies. The link between organized crime and gambling was a factor in four state elections on legal gaming. The California proposition would have established a state board to run all gaming operations with the proceeds going for old-age benefits.

It lost by a wide margin. Lotteries Begin Their Resurgence. From to , there were no legal government-sponsored lotteries operating in the United States. This ban led to a paradox: lotteries were widely played, but always illegal. One of the most well known was the Irish sweepstakes which began in for the purpose of raising money for hospitals in Ireland.

Although it was not legal to sell tickets in the U. Participation was high with about 13 percent of the country having ever bought a ticket. Another prominent form of lottery was the illegal "numbers" game. Despite the illegality, numbers was quite popular. Growing opposition to tax increases was a leading factor in establishing state-run lotteries in the 20th century.

In New Hampshire was the first state to sponsor a lottery, followed by New York in New Jersey launched the first financially successful modern lottery in The New Jersey lottery was successful because it stressed frequent action at low cost, and it returned a higher percentage of lottery revenues as prizes.

There were also various attempts to legalize a national lottery, but they failed to be passed by Congress. In , New Jersey became the second state to legalize casino gambling in an attempt to revitalize the rundown resort area of Atlantic City.

The legalization was restricted only to Atlantic City. In the late 's to the early 's, Atlantic City was a popular resort town, boosted by the new rail service which linked the Northeast. Day trips to the Jersey shore were now possible and affordable. But its popularity dwindled when air travel became easily accessible. Upscale tourists chose beach resorts in Florida , the Bahamas , and the Caribbean over Atlantic City.

Casino gaming was expected to be a way for Atlantic City to become a popular tourist destination once again. The first and second waves ended in part because of a resurgence of public concern about morality and scandals in gaming. People can live with adverse odds but not cheating.

If lotteries were plagued by fraud that would probably have an impact on people's perceptions. Another route is through problems and scandal in sports gambling. Pete Rose is a symbol of what gambling can do to a person. What happens if a sports hero is more interested in winning a bet than a game? Could such a scandal impact legalized gaming? The emperor Nero had lotteries for prizes at parties. The Great Wall of China was financed, in part, by a lottery.

The Bible is replete with references to drawing lots. Lot casting was a favored means of communication between man and god. As early as , lotteries were used in Europe for public works. High-value commodities such as land and art were often sold through lotteries. The first publicly run European lottery was in Florence in The money was raised for public works. The first public English lottery was in and was also for public works projects.

In the British Museum was funded with lottery proceeds. In addition, England had private lotteries, but they became such a scandal that parliament outlawed them in As noted in the history section, lotteries have a long and mixed history in the new world.

In modern times, lotteries started their comeback with the legalization of the New Hampshire lottery in This lottery was a low-stakes low-excitement lottery, because drawings were held twice a year and the winnings were not large. The lottery was modeled after the Irish sweepstakes.

The winning numbers were tied to the winner of a horse race. However, it was not a skill-based game, as the numbers were randomly selected. Researchers usually point to New Jersey as the first modern successful lottery. The New Jersey lottery was more successful because of the more frequent drawings and larger purses.

The New Jersey lottery was administered by a commission appointed by the Governor, a model that most states use. Lotteries Enjoy Widespread Legalization. Lotteries are legal now in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Lotteries have spread rapidly across the country, in a way that is consistent with the domino theory of gaming regulation discussed in the introductory section. Simply put, a given state is more likely to have a lottery, if the neighboring state has a lottery.

The first states with lotteries were all in the northeast. Then lotteries spread across the country. The only region in the United States where they are generally not legal is in Alaska , and Hawaii , and the southern states. Lotteries, along with their close derivative bingo, are the most popular kinds of gambling.

The popularity of lottery games is not limited to state-run lotteries. Indian tribes run lotteries and illegal lotteries still exist. Lotteries are also legal around the world. In all these places, lotteries are basically the same game with only minor differences that reflect the particular national culture.

Looking at some specific industry statistics, we can see that lotteries are well-established in this country and within California , although for the size of the state, California does not have a particularly large lottery. Although the chart shows California as one of the biggest lottery's state, the table at the bottom shows Californians spent less on the lottery than many other states. Per Capita Lottery Sales - Washington , DC.

Despite Success, Opposition Exists. The resurgence of lotteries has not been universally welcomed. Another argument against lotteries is that legal gambling leads to illegal gambling. Lottery critics see legalized state-sponsored gambling destroying ethical values by promoting the ethics of easy money over hard work. Critics point to the ads of employees being disrespectful to their bosses after winning the lottery.

Another argument that is marshaled against lotteries is that they prey on the poor, the ignorant, and compulsive gamblers. The poor may be induced to spend money on lottery rather than basic necessities leaving local and state government picking up the tab through varied service programs. State lotteries are also a monopoly and some question exists whether that is proper.

Another argument is that if the purpose is to make money for schools or some other worthy purpose, why shouldn't the state earn money through opening other businesses such as restaurants or brothels? In sharp contrast, supporters call lotteries a painless tax, even a high-minded tax. Money is raised for good causes through people having fun.

Lotteries are to be celebrated because they restore consumer sovereignty, allowing people to spend money on what they choose. The argument goes on to state that gambling is prevalent whether it is legal or illegal, so why not allow people to do it legally. To prevent people from gambling is a form of paternalism and is elitist. There is no harm save for the compulsive gambler or in the crooked game, which all state lotteries go to great pains to avoid.

Chesley behind the counter would bust their little knuckles if they tried to buy a copy of The Racing Form. Not anymore. Now good Mrs. Chesley has turned her shop into a gambling hell where she greets the traffic with a leer that says, "Hello sucker" and has to keep kicking the kids out of her way so the lottery players can get their bets down. There are objections to lotteries that go beyond the arguments just presented.

Some critics are concerned that state-sponsored lotteries are not just supplying a good, but trying to foster a taste for it. But the question remains, does the business-like behavior where sales of lottery tickets are actively encouraged through state sponsorship and huge amounts of advertising reflect the public interest?

Why have lotteries grown? There are several trends that receive credit for expanding lottery business. One of these is a significant marketing and advertising campaign and the other is that the lottery is a monopoly run by state government and not by a private firm.

Lotteries are run by state government for two major reasons. One is to reduce fraud and the other is to raise money for a worthy cause. Some states deposit the proceeds into the general fund while others earmark the money for special purposes. Some interesting purposes include a gamblers aid fund in Iowa and the University of Illinois Athletic Association in Illinois. The state statutes generally call for the lottery commission to maximize profits, although some restrictions may be adopted.

Because of the statutory direction to maximize profits, lotteries are run like businesses and are more like a private sector entity than a state agency. An unusual case was Missouri , where the law prohibited advertising that would induce a person to participate. Since the effect of this prohibition was to eliminate all of the advertising normally done by a state lottery, the law has since been changed. For example, lotteries, including California , routinely advertise multimillion dollar prizes.

The real value of these prizes is actually about one-half as large because they are paid out over many years. Critics charge that this is misleading advertising and the present value of the prizes should be noted in the advertisements. New York Governor Pataki has directed the lottery to advertise in a more honest way. Gone are the pictures of the new millionaire beside his pool.

Early lotteries were plagued by corruption and scandals. To protect the integrity of the games, lotteries have adopted many safeguards to protect against corruption and fraud. The lottery industry has experienced very few scandals in the more than 30 years of state-administered lotteries in North America.

There have been some instances of fraud in modern lotteries, although the incidents pale in comparison to the experiences of the 18th and 19th century American lotteries. In , there was a scandal in the Pennsylvania lottery. In a drawing where balls were used to determine the winning number, some of the balls were injected with fluid to make them heavier. Because they were heavier they would be chosen in the mechanized selection procedure.

The perpetrators included the TV announcer and were quickly discovered. Another significant lottery scandal also occurred in Pennsylvania when a computer vendor printed a ticket with the winning numbers. Again the perpetrator was quickly discovered. In a slightly different kind of case, New York closed down its lottery for a period after the agency announced winning tickets that the lottery officials knew had not been sold.

As noted, New Hampshire started with a couple of drawings a year. The results were not spectacular. As more states legalized lotteries, the states have become very effective at innovating and creating new games. One of the first innovations was to increase the frequency of drawing and the size of the prizes. Another new product was the instant tickets, termed "scratchers.

One of the biggest booms to lotteries was the introduction of Lotto. Lotto is a game where winners are determined by matching the player's number with numbers that are drawn. If the winning numbers are not held by a player the prize rolls over and grows. The rolling over of the prize is crucial to a modern lottery's success, because it creates a large jackpot which has a significant effect in stimulating sales.

Lottery Players are Widespread. Lotteries are the most popular and broadly played form of gambling despite having the lowest payout. A large proportion, about 50 to 60 percent of adult Americans play legal lotteries in lottery states. Two-thirds of these play regularly, which means that about one-third of the adults are regular players. Heavy players are about 10 percent of all lottery players. There is substantial evidence that youths play the lottery, although they are forbidden by law.

Studies have found large number of high schools kids playing lottery games. Some of these individuals have characteristics of pathological gamblers. The total number of all lottery players is probably greater then reflected in statistics because illegal lotteries still exist.

They can exist because their payout ratio is much higher. State lotteries are a very unattractive gambling proposition as they return a relatively small amount of the money as prizes. Also, a small number of poor families spend a very large sum on lotteries. That is because higher income people spend proportionally much less on the lottery. Research has shown that a relatively small minority of customers provide a large share of revenues.

A study based on California data showed that, typically about two-thirds of the take is provide by about 10 percent of the customers. Lotteries have come to be seen as "implicit taxes" by researchers. But lotteries are similar to taxes because they raise money for public purposes. Some critics would argue that lotteries are not wholly voluntary because of the coercive nature of the advertising and the fact that people buy them on impulse.

Even if purchased on impulse, so are candy bars and lottery tickets do not cost much more. Almost every study conducted by economists and researchers has found lotteries to be regressive form of raising money. The regressivity of a lottery is heightened because of how the money is spent.

The proceeds tend to go for programs that benefit the population as a whole, namely education. The regressivity could be diminished if lottery proceeds went for programs that aided lower income groups exclusively. In other states there has been criticism that lotteries have targeted low-income people.

Why do People Play the Lottery? The main reasons are availability, no skill is required to play, players have little or no fear of corruption, and gamblers can wager small amounts. People play despite the low payout compared to other forms of gambling. However, playing the lottery is a cheap way to have an opportunity of winning big dollars and become a celebrity.

If you win a big lottery prize you are put in the newspapers. The celebrity status of winners may be an important aspect in encouraging play. The odds of success in lotteries do not seem that important to players. When interviewed, consumers do not seem to know the odds or the payout rate. Researchers have found that once people believe that a low probability event can occur, they tend to overestimate the chances of it occurring.

Lotteries give an illusion of control to some players. Because you can pick your own numbers in some games, you can choose your own lucky number. Tabloids feature articles about how to improve odds at picking lottery numbers, obviously a forlorn hope because the winning numbers are a product of a random process. Another attraction of the lottery is that people enjoy the non-monetary aspects of it, including talking about playing, engaging in the ritual weekly purchase, socializing with friends and coworkers to pool to buy tickets, and dreaming about winning, perhaps the favorite activity among lottery players.

According to some research, lotteries recruit people into commercial gaming, especially in states that have had little legalized gaming or exposure to such activity. Another view is that lotteries have sanitized gaming and popularized it. Gambling can be an addiction for some gamblers and the resulting costs from these compulsive gamblers is quite significant as discussed in Chapter IX. It is unclear what role lotteries are having on the compulsive gambler.

Illegal Gambling Isn't Eliminated by Lotteries. One justification that has been used to win approval of lotteries is that they will undercut the illegal numbers game. Nevertheless, illegal numbers still persist, although they are probably smaller.

And the payout is much larger than the approximately 50 percent of state-run lotteries. Although the size of numbers is not known, researchers note that estimates put drugs as a far bigger source of funds to criminal interests. Economic Impact of Lotteries is Unclear. The lotteries help retailers that sell lottery tickets, especially the small ones.

But of course by removing money from expenditure on other goods and services it can have a harmful impact on other retailers, but that has not been quantified. Some research on the California lottery shows that it has a pronounced impact on rural areas. The lottery raises money throughout the state, but proceeds and purchases of inputs do not benefit the state equally.

There are New Directions for Lotteries. State lottery commissions are intrigued by several new directions. These include video lottery terminals and betting at home through touch-tone phones or cable television. Another is sports betting. Sports betting may be the most popular type of betting, although much of it is illegal. Four states have used sports betting in the lotteries, but Congress acted to outlaw it at the behest of professional athletic organizations.

There was a widespread concern that any legalized sports betting could make the athlete more concerned with the bet than the game. State lotteries have not been involved in casino gaming. A different situation exists in Manitoba , Canada , where the lottery operates a casino. Lotteries have gone to quickdraw keno and it has become quite popular. Monitors are placed in bars and restaurants and drawings are held on a very frequent basis, approximately every five minutes.

Critics argue that it exposes young people to casino-type gaming. California earned more than any state on quickdraw keno. Lottery games are played against other players and not against the house, in this case the California Lottery.

California law prohibits all banked games, that is those games where the house has a stake in the outcome. That lottery would be available in all states that have a lottery, including California. Such a lottery would allow someone to use a credit card to purchase a ticket over the phone.

The person would be able to buy on credit and would not have to leave his own home. Another advantage is that the lottery does not have to earmark money for a purpose, such as the California lottery. Some lottery analysts say this could be a large advantage. Whether this will drive their payout to a higher or lower level than the state's is not clear. There is a strong link between the lotteries and Indian gaming.

The Indian tribes are allowed to operate whatever type of gambling that is not prohibited to everyone within a state. The games used by the lottery are often used to pave the way for expanded Indian gaming in states that do not otherwise allow casino gaming.

Lotteries May Not Stay Public. Governor Rowland of Connecticut has proposed selling a portion of the state lottery to private investors to raise money for the state. It would not have a significant impact on the operation because only a minority, about 6 percent of the state lottery, would be sold.

New Hampshire. New York. New Jersey. Rhode Island. Washington DC. West Virginia. South Dakota. New Mexico. Why do People Gamble? Earlier sections of this report presented data on the growing popularity of gambling nationally, as well as in California. Given the popularity of gambling, this raises an obvious question: "Why do people gamble?

And why do some people gamble more than others and who are these people? Why do people gamble when it isn't a sure path to riches? As one researcher noted: 1. There is a debate over whether the motivation to gamble is positive or negative. A common view is that gambling is negative. In particular, this view is common among religious groups.

Because people enjoy it they continue to gamble in spite of losing. Any discussion of the motivation of gambling usually starts with the natural comparison to life. Life is a gamble. Everyday, people are faced with situations which involve risk and chance.

Gambling activities are extensions of the risk and chance in life. The activity of gambling becomes play, it becomes a game. Gambling allows the person the choice of engaging in the activity, the amount of risk and, in many cases, the stakes. The stakes are a necessary element for many people. It turns the bet into not just an opinion but a commitment.

The concept of gambling mimicking the risk and chance of life has a parallel in the history section of this report. As noted in that portion, gambling was a popular activity during the gold mining era. Mining was a high-risk enterprise that required constant gambles by the participants. Considering that the people who accepted risk were drawn to mining, it is not surprising that gambling would become a popular leisure activity.

The fact that recreational gambling mimics life does not really help us determine why people gamble. If risk and chance are integral parts of life, why do some people seek out gambling activities and why are others content without it? Researchers have attempted to answer this question, but thus far no definitive answer has been found, but plenty of articles have been published.

Another way to determine why people gamble is to ask them. Why do people say they gamble? In a survey in Washington , those sampled reported that they gambled for fun, to win money, or they were looking for excitement and a challenge. Modern theories of gambling motivation are quite a change from some earlier theories. Early social scientists theorized that gambling was a way to deal with the pressures of industrialization.

Karl Marx grouped it with religion as an opiate for the masses. Psychoanalysts had a different view. Sigmund Freud analyzed Fyodor Dostoyevsky's heavy gambling and diagnosed him as punishing himself for his oedipal urges. Different groups are more inclined to gamble than others. A review of several studies on demographic factors which relate to gambling behavior helps answer the question of who gambles the most.

The following represents a synopsis of some of the research findings: 6. Why do People Gamble Too Much? To many people, gambling is a simple form of entertainment. But to some others, it becomes an uncontrollable behavior. Many terms are used to describe a person who has a problem with gambling, including pathological gambler, gambling addict, compulsive gambler, or problem gambler.

All of these terms are used to describe a person for whom gambling has become more than an innocent diversion. Some of these terms lack specific meaning. This report will follow the literature and use "problem gambling" to mean an umbrella term to describe a situation where gambling activity disrupts one's life, but the extent of the disruption is not defined.

Problem gambling includes pathological gambling, which is a more severe condition and is a term with specific medical meaning. Pathological gambling is recognized as a medical disorder by the American Psychiatric Association and has elements of addiction similar to alcohol and drug addiction. It describes a gambler who loses control over gambling behavior with damaging personal, social and financial effects.

Very often, the pathological gambler suffers from legal problems. Because the gambler is losing control it is referred to by mental health practitioners as an impulse disorder. Pathological gambling is a progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms will get worse over time.

Mental health professionals see it as a complex disease often seen in conjunction with other disorders including depression and chemical dependency. The media readily tells the tales of those whose lives were destroyed by their uncontrollable gambling. These are some stories that have been pulled from press clippings: 1. Tragic examples such as these receive an enormous amount of publicity and are often used by anti-gambling groups to fight the spread of legalized gambling. Industry observers credit attention from these stories as blocking laws that would have relaxed betting limit regulations in Missouri.

Describing the behavior is much simpler than explaining why the problem gambler persists in behavior which is so damaging. Mental-health professionals prefer the term "pathological gambling" because it stresses the disease aspect of the issue. Pathological gambling is a progressive and chronic disorder that is clearly distinguished from social gambling. Psychiatrist Richard J. Rosenthal, who has written the official medical definition, defines it as:.

The results can be quite devastating. The disorder is incapacitating. The pathological gambler is unable to maintain solvency or provide basic support for themselves or their family. Further, as noted in the American Psychiatric Association description of the condition, "When the individual's borrowing resources are strained, the person may resort to antisocial behavior to obtain money.

A significant percentage of pathological gamblers have a second addiction to drugs or alcohol. Pathological Gambling Recognized as a Medical Problem. By including pathological gambling, it gave official medical recognition as a disease. Pathological gambling is also identified as a disease by the World Health Organization.

Since , the definition of pathological gambling has undergone some major changes. At first, the emphasis was on the damage and disruption caused by the disease. The motive was of little importance. Subsequent versions have changed this description and revised the diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling, emphasizing the addictive nature of the disease.

It mentions issues concerning tolerance and withdrawal, suggesting a physiological basis for the disorder. In the case of the pathological gambler, tolerance refers to their increasing need for gambling and usually gambling with greater risks to get the same emotional effect. As with chemical dependency, withdrawal refers to the pain and discomfort associated with not practicing the behavior. According to the latest version of the manual, DSM-IV, a person who exhibits at least five of the following behaviors may be a pathological gambler: 6.

Researchers consider pathological gambling an invisible problem with symptoms that are hard to distinguish from non-pathological gambling. Further, individual cases will vary greatly. Research has shown that there are factors that increase the risk of being a pathological gambler.

Surveys of pathological gamblers show a greater proportion of: 9. These findings are from prevalence surveys, not from studies of who is in treatment. White middle-aged males are the pathological gamblers most likely to end up in treatment. Researchers have been less successful in determining what causes problem gambling and what the differences are between problem and normal gamblers.

There are many people who have a variety of risk factors but don't become problem gamblers. These incidence figures are surveys for the adult population as a whole. The rate of compulsive gambling among teens may be higher, reaching seven to eleven percent. One of the most comprehensive research projects on compulsive gambling prevalence was conducted by Rachel A.

Volberg with funding by the National Institute of Mental Health. California was one of the five states surveyed. There have been surveys of other states. Prevalence over Lifetime. California , Current Gambling Problems. Controversy Exists Over the Accuracy of the Surveys. This survey instrument is a twenty-item scale that was derived from the diagnostic criteria for pathological gamblers published in DSM-III. The potential for false positives may be increased because gambling may be more likely to lead to occasional problem elements by normal individuals.

Another criticism is that the screen doesn't accurately detect problem gambling in the young. The screen was developed from response and behavioral patterns of adult pathological gamblers. Those that use the screen retort that it is accurate for many different groups. Some critics argue, however, that the screen doesn't detect enough problem gamblers. Some observers are concerned that researchers can't realistically conduct phone surveys of problem gamblers.

They point out that problem gamblers are at the clubs or afraid to answer the phone because the gamblers don't want to talk to somebody they owe money. That is similar to other telephone surveys regarding sensitive questions. Results of the Volberg study suggest that problem gambling is a greater problem in those states where legal wagering has been available for some time. Drawing conclusions from comparisons of one state over time or a cross-sectional study of multiple states is difficult.

Such comparisons are based only on the prevalence rates and not by looking at population differences that could explain the different rates. Another way that prevalence studies attempt to shed light on the same question is by conducting the studies over time. In South Dakota , prevalence studies show that despite the legalization of casinos, the prevalence did not change in a statistically significant way over time.

A study in Iowa came to quite different conclusions. It showed a dramatic increase from 1. Mental health professionals who treat pathological gamblers tend to believe that legalization leads to increased compulsive gambling. Counselors form this belief based on their experience and the nature of addiction. They tend to hold the view that some people may be predisposed to an addiction. If a person was predisposed to have a drinking problem, but never came into contact with alcohol, she or he would not become an alcoholic.

The pathology of their predisposing factors may still cause some damage to them and others. They might also be some other kind of addict, but they would not be an alcoholic. In the same way, a person with a predisposition to problem gambling may not see it manifested until access to gambling becomes available. Another element of this is that legalization leads to greater acceptance of gambling and greater exposure for the average person.

This behavioral pattern occurs because pathological gambling is a problem of impulse control. The more accessible gambling is, the harder it is to maintain the control. Despite the logic of this line of reasoning, there are no prevalence studies that prove the notion that expanded gambling will lead to increased problem gambling.

Another theory of problem gambling counselors is that electronic games such as slots and video lottery terminals are especially addictive. Those disagreeing point to survey results from South Dakota. The amount of video lottery sales in the state increased, but prevalence of gambling problems remained unchanged. Regardless of any possible links, legal gambling probably cannot be blamed for all pathological gambling.

Research in Texas before the lottery began operating showed that a small percentage of Texas had gambling problems. If gambling were prohibited, would problem gambling stop? Probably not. According to Jean Falzon, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, "Problem gambling is going to exist despite the availability of legalized gambling or the lack thereof.

Many problem and compulsive gamblers have problems with sports betting which is predominantly illegal in this country. These are derived from cost estimates from other states and prevalence studies both from California and other states.

It is not known with accuracy either the social costs or the actual number of problem gamblers. Hence, the table presents a range. Percentage and Number of Pathological Gamblers. Cost Per Pathological Gambler. Total Cost. Source: California Research Bureau.

The social costs of pathological gambling are explained in more detail in the economics chapter. Surveys have shown that some play a number of games. A study in a state with casinos showed that the majority of problem gamblers were having problems with non-casino gambling, including the state lottery. Among these, a small majority said their problem was related to casino gambling.

But, significant numbers said that their problem was lotteries or sports and race betting. With so many different types of gambling opportunities, the course of the disease can be broken into two types:. One article points to Donald Trump and Robert Maxwell. Both men gambled incorrectly as subsequent events have shown.

They are identified because of the nature and size of the risks they took. Experts in pathological gambling point to some of the more notorious financial market trading scandals as evidence of pathological gambling outside of gaming establishments.

Historically, problem gambling was regarded as an individual failing rather than as a medical or social problem. The original treatment for problem gamblers was Gamblers Anonymous. It is also known by the shorthand GA. GA was established in and until the 's, it was the only treatment program in the United States for problem gamblers.

The program of Gamblers Anonymous is based upon Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is a spiritual program that uses twelve steps as a guide to help program participants recover from alcoholism and its effects. GA uses the same basic twelve steps for treating uncontrolled gambling.

The program is supported entirely by member contributions. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. Like alcoholics, GA members attend meetings and talk of their experiences. GA members believe that they cannot control their gambling and must abstain.

They learn to avoid gambling establishments and also learn that gambling won't solve their problems. For the problem gambler, the fellowship of GA represents a source of comfort, friendship, and social activities rather than turning to gambling. In , there were 16 chapters in the U. This number grew to in , and by , chapters existed. The first inpatient treatment program for compulsive gambling was established at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ohio in that same year.

With the inclusion of pathological gambling in the DSM-III in , people started to look at this problem as a disease, and paid more attention to treatment. There were an increasing number of treatment programs for compulsive gambling. Some programs were established by state legislatures in response to concerns voiced by the opponents of legalized gambling. There are also a number of private practitioners whose private practices are focused on compulsive gamblers.

Generally, treatment is modeled on the treatment of alcoholism and other drug addictions. That consists of step programs, behavioral modification and counseling, including individual, group, and family therapy, although, a review of the literature shows that a variety of treatment forms have been tried, including electric shock treatment and aversion therapy. Treatment is complicated by the nature of the disease.

Addicts are in denial of their disease, hence they cannot be relied upon to accurately report their condition. Many GA members were in therapy prior to joining GA, usually for depression, anxiety, and marital conflict, but their gambling problem was not admitted, recognized, or discussed. The employer can be a valuable tool in requiring an employee receive treatment. But because gambling is a disease that involves loss of control over money, any pathological gambler who is handling money is especially reluctant to let their employer know that they have a problem.

Another complicating factor is that pathological gamblers often don't have insurance to cover treatment. Many are having financial and employment problems so they don't have health insurance. If they have health insurance it may cover alcohol or drug treatment but only rarely gambling.

Although individual pathological gamblers can be quite successfully treated, little is known about the effectiveness of treatment programs. Self-help programs such as GA don't keep track of their success. One study showed that 8 percent of the members haven't gambled two years after joining the program. It is likely the effectiveness is greater because some members take longer than two years to completely refrain from gambling.

There is a school of researchers that argue that prevention is much more cost-effective, because of the high treatment costs and the uncertain success. Prevention programs include public awareness advertising and programs in the schools to make individuals aware of the disease. Again, despite the questions about the overall success rate, clinicians describe the disease as very treatable for any particular individual who has the appropriate motivation and receives the proper treatment.

Although accurate figures are not known, the consensus of researchers is that it is a small minority. The best estimate for the population of Gamblers Anonymous is about 80, There are about 1 to 2 million pathological gamblers in the United States.

A much smaller number gets professional treatment without going to GA. One gambler who did seek treatment was Chet Forte, who was better known as the director of "Monday Night Football. Forte won 11 Emmy awards. He was spared from prison only because the judge recognized his cooperation and his efforts in gaining treatment for his gambling addiction.

According to press accounts, he paid back his debts, including back taxes, and continued attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings up until his untimely death from a heart attack in May California is not among their number. Some examples include Texas where the agency that administers alcohol and drug abuse programs also has a gambling responsibility. The agency sponsored a pathological gambling prevalence survey in Texas.

Massachusetts funds the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling with unclaimed lottery winnings. Other states have sponsored extensive prevalence studies or provided funds directly for treatment and public education. Some states fund their programs through a portion of the lottery proceeds or fees on gaming activities.

Though there is debate over the prevalence of problem gambling, the industry generally accepts that there are problem gamblers. Some gaming companies are participating in programs aimed at educating the public about problem gambling and providing information about the help that is available to those who need it.

But participation is far from uniform. One observer has characterized the industry as doing surprisingly little. There are different approaches to educating the public about problem gambling. Toll-free help-lines have become popular and one can see posters or stickers with the number posted in casinos. Public service announcements on television and radio have also become popular. These announcements are often sponsored by the casino industry or a specific casino company.

While the industry is taking some responsibility and has been an active participant in the education effort, it does not feel its responsibility extends to treatment. The industry view is that pathological gambling should be treated like any other medical condition. Individual members of industry may have donated to charitable organizations that promote the counseling and treatment of problem gamblers.

Could casinos do more? One researcher noted that it is possible that seasoned casino personnel can be quite effective in identifying pathological gamblers. However, once a pathological gambler is identified it is not clear what is the appropriate response. Industry action is complicated by the concern that a gambler may walk down the street to a competing casino or facility.

The situation is quite different in European countries than in the United States. In Europe , individuals can request to be banned and even family members can request that an individual not be allowed in the casino. Some areas go so far as to prohibit locals from entering casinos. The British experience with casinos provides an interesting contrast. This discussion is drawn from an article by the noted University of Nevada researcher Dr.

William Eadington. Credit is not granted and alcohol is prohibited. There is not any advertising for the general public. Casinos are required to provide printed material to advise patrons of wise gambling strategies. People seek treatment for compulsive gambling, but not just because of the losses they run up. Pathological gambling is not just a problem of lost money. Compulsive or pathological gamblers seek treatment when other addicts do, when their life is an absolute mess and they can't take it anymore.

Mental health professionals point to factors such as widespread borrowing, deception, and crime making the lives of pathological gamblers uncontrollable. Reportedly, a large number of compulsive gamblers are involved in white-collar crime. Not surprisingly given the pathological gambler's need for funds, a significant proportion of those incarcerated may be pathological gamblers.

These problems don't even begin to detail the impact of their behavior on their family, including children. In other words, pathological gambling is not victimless. Research has shown that children of pathological gamblers had a variety of problems and were much more likely to be abused. In the parlance of the mental health professionals, "Children of pathological gamblers show more signs of serious psycho-social maladjustment.

Asians and Native Americans as well as the young have been identified as being particularly sensitive to pathological gambling problems. The young are at risk because of their immaturity, which can lead to excess.

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