What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling as a sport or recreational activity is one of the oldest sports in history, going back at least to ancient Greece. It has evolved throughout the years, becoming more sophisticated. Betting, gambling, or gaming can also be used to refer to non-sport events, such as lottery drawings, raffles, etc. Gambling involves the same three factors for sports betting: consideration, risk, and an award. While a sports bettor would not usually think of gambling as a form of sports betting, it is important to keep these three factors in mind when placing your bets.


The subject of gambling can be divided into two broad categories, either “gambling for fun” or “gambling as a means of earning a profit”. In most instances of gambling for fun, people will choose an activity they enjoy and choose gambling games that are easy, yet entertaining. Sports betting is one type of gambling that falls into this category. Other examples include video poker, progressive slot machines, keno, horse racing, etc.

Problem gamblers are gamblers who have a problem, usually related to alcohol or another substance abuse, that causes them to place a high amount of bets on any sort of gambling event, no matter what the sporting event is. Many times problem gamblers visit self-help groups or do research on resources available to them for help with their addiction. Problem gamblers may seek professional counseling or even legal assistance from attorneys specializing in gambling law.

Family finances are very often touched in by gambling addictions. This can be quite a stressful issue for all involved. Gambling problems can affect family finances in a variety of ways. The gambler loses his or her job, loses a car, household bills may fall behind, credit card debts increase and credit scores go down. The problem gambler may also be alienated from extended family or friends and feel uncomfortable talking about gambling problems at family gatherings. Many times the problem gambler does not even want to admit that gambling is affecting his or her life.

Gamblers are gamblers; there is no difference between a professional player and a novice. Regardless of the type of gambling problem, all gamblers, at some point, will win and lose money. The key is learning to control and limit the amount of money that is lost and won. Professional gamblers can easily roll the dice a hundred times and still come out ahead. Problem gamblers may not know any better but fear the loss of losing more money than they win.

While there is no “one size fits all” method for gambling addiction treatment, the majority of people who gamble tend to go towards alcohol or drug addiction treatment centers for additional support. Those who are not dependent upon alcohol or drugs can also be treated successfully with counseling and support group meetings. Problem gamblers need to recognize that gambling is simply a skill that can be learned. Over time most people learn to become better gamblers and stop worrying so much about their gambling problems.