Pathological Gambling


Gambling is the act of risking money or other items of value on activities with uncertain outcomes, where skill is discounted (Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 1989). It includes:

For many people, gambling provides a fun way to pass the time and gives them a good feeling when they win. However, for some individuals it can be a big problem and can affect their lives in various ways including their family relationships, work performance and even lead to suicide. Problem gamblers can be from any background or age and they can be male or female.

Despite the fact that it involves a degree of randomness and chance, there are some skills which can help you improve your chances of winning. For example, knowing how to play certain card games can improve your odds of beating the dealer, while knowledge of horse racing can help you predict a winner of a football accumulator.

In addition, psychological research has found that the size of the reward is an important factor in determining whether someone will continue to gamble. For instance, the larger a winning jackpot is, the more likely it will be to trigger a relapse and keep a person in gambling. The theory behind this is that a person will feel they are due for another big win. This is referred to as “chasing losses.”

In recent years, understanding of pathological gambling has undergone a profound change. Traditionally, it was seen as a behavioral disorder; today, it is considered a psychological disorder. This change is similar to that which occurred in the understanding of alcoholism.