Why Do Some People Have Gambling Problems?


Over the past two decades, gambling has become widespread throughout the country. In today’s society, gambling is a popular and acceptable form of entertainment. So popular, in fact, that about 83% of American adults gambles at least once each year!

People gamble for many reasons. For the vast majority of people, gambling is just entertainment. But for some people, it can develop into a very serious problem.  And because gambling has spread throughout the country so fast, very few of us have been educated about the risks of gambling addiction, or the signs that may indicate that they are becoming addicted.

Here are some of the reasons that people at risk of, or with a gambling problem gamble:

  • Hoping for a “big win” (at least 1 month’s salary)
  • Trying to win back lost money
  • Seeking the excitement of risk-taking
  • Impulsivity (acting without thinking in advance)
  • Trying to feel better about themselves
  • Escaping from loneliness, depression, anxiety and/or other unpleasant feelings
  • Hiding from life’s problems
  • Distraction from physical or emotional pain

People can become addicted to any and all forms of gambling; however, some types of gambling are more addictive others. For example: frequent small wins, continuous play, bonus games, a high volume of near misses and the chance of big jackpots make slot machines amongst the most addictive forms of gambling.1

Although it may not make it easier to accept the consequences, it is important to understand that gambling disorders are a disease of the brain. Those afflicted with a gambling disorder are not:

  • “Bad people”
  • Morally weak
  • Lacking self-control
  • Just gambling for the sake of gambling
  • Confined to any one specific gender, age, ethnicity or social class

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