Pathological Gambling



Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent of winning some other thing of value, where instances of strategy are discounted. Gambling can occur in many settings, from casinos and racetracks to church basements and online. People gamble for a variety of reasons: social, financial, or entertainment. Social gambling can include playing card games or board games for money, placing friendly sports or horse betting bets with coworkers, or purchasing lottery tickets. In general, social gambling is casual and meant for enjoyment. In contrast, a professional gambler makes their living primarily by gambling and has an in-depth understanding of the games or bets they play.

The term pathological gambling describes a serious problem with gambling behavior that is not better accounted for by other impulse control disorders (such as kleptomania or pyromania). The DSM-5 includes 10 diagnostic criteria for this disorder, including loss of control, preoccupation with gambling, and recurrent failure to reduce or stop gambling activity. This reflects the opinion of research scientists, psychiatrists, other treatment care clinicians, and gambling researchers that these symptoms indicate a distinct condition rather than simply an overlapping set of behaviors.

A person who develops an addiction to gambling may benefit from a variety of treatments and supports, such as family therapy and marriage, career, or credit counseling. A professional therapist can help individuals identify and manage triggers, develop strategies to avoid gambling, and work through the specific problems caused by gambling.