Facts About Gambling Addiction You Probably Don't Know

Having fun when you are placing a wager should never really be an issue. Travelling to a casino from time to time or even casually spinning some slots online is meant to be a fun and exciting experience. With that being said, the line between compulsive gambling and casual gambling for some people can be fine. It's often so fine that it is difficult to see when the fun ends and the trouble starts.

Written by Amanda Evans 5 minute read
gambling addiction facts you might not know

Gambling Addiction is Hard to Recognise

One of the main issues that comes with problem gambling is, believe it or not, recognising the issue. Unlike drugs or even alcohol, gambling can be a hidden addiction. Compulsive gambling is often mistaken by gamblers as well as their loved ones as it simply looks as if they are having a good time. Being aware of the issue as well as the symptoms of problem gambling can begin to reveal the truth behind what a person is spending. It's easy for spending to increase over time as well which can lead to even more issues.

Some of the signs that you may be experiencing gambling addiction include:

  • not having much tolerance for losing
  • placing even bigger bets to try and compensate losses
  • you are obsessed and you use gambling to hide your real feelings.
  • you are secretive about your gambling behavior
  • giving gambling a priority over your family and friends
  • having feelings of guilt or even shame is common

One interesting fact about gambling is that it doesn't matter how many times you gamble, there is no guarantee that you will not become impulsive with your behaviour at some point.

Compulsive Gambling Doesn't Happen Overnight

Even if you do not gamble every day at first, you could still be at risk of developing a full-blown addiction. Compulsive behaviour does not happen in a day. It is a process that entails a lot of different behaviors.

Instead of brushing off your concerns or even saying that you couldn't have a problem because it doesn't happen every day isn't the way to go. You instead need to ask yourself questions like, have you ever gambled to try and win back money you may have lost? Or do you feel the urge to gamble so you can feel the rush of excitement?

Breaking Down Gambling Addiction

One thing to take note of is that gambling addiction is far more common in men than it is in women. Research has shown that men are twice as likely to participate. This can lead to a higher prevalence of gambling addiction overall. Even though addiction researchers don't have anything to support the reason why, it's said to be because men are more likely to take risks than women, and they are also more prone to social anxiety. At the same time, men are not able to cope with behavioral impulses as much.

Why Are Men More Likely to Gamble Than Women?

Risk-taking as well as sensation-seeking are the two main aspects of impulsivity and researchers are doing a lot right now to try and make sure that they pinpoint impulsive behaviors. They have done this across numerous environments too. Studies have also shown that engagement with casino play among younger men is stronger than that among older men.

Gambling Addicts are Prone to Other Addictions

Those who have a gambling addiction are often prone to other addictions. According to statistics, it seems that 30% of people who seek treatment for things like substance abuse often meet the same criteria for gambling addiction.

The rules behind this are primarily because both of them meet the same risk factors. When you look at compulsive behavior in the brain, you will notice that it shows up on scans in the same way that drug use does. It gives you a psychological high. This high is likely to reinforce it going forward. Compulsive seekers of drugs often end up seeking a higher form of the drug too, which is another issue. Even though estimates show that only 3-5% of people have an issue with gambling, the figure is still shocking.

Out of a population of 330 million, that makes a total of 8.5 million people with an addictive problem. If you have ever wondered why gambling is illegal in some countries it's because the costs associated with it are tremendous. The toll the addiction takes has a major impact on the health of a nation.

It's Common in Middle Aged People

Gambling is way more common in middle-aged people than you might think. Studies have shown time and time again that middle-aged people tend to have more issues. It may not be because they have bigger compulsions and instead, it may be because they fail to seek help. This makes the demographic prone to harm.

Having An Addiction Doesn't Mean You're Weak

If you have a gambling addiction then that doesn't mean that you are weak. Even if you are struggling, you should not associate it with not being strong enough to beat it. Addiction is a mental health disorder and one thing to know about it is that it requires professional help to overcome it. There are no statistics regarding problem gamblers who have stopped on their own without any kind of help. Overall, gambling is meant to be fun, but at the end of the day, it can easily become an issue.

The gambling sector is always trying to raise awareness of this problem. Online casinos must now offer responsible gaming features that players can implement such as deposit limits, session limits, and the ability to self exclude. The Ontario Gambling Commission banned the use of celebrity endorsements in advertisments.

The main thing is to seek help if you feel you need it. Addiction to gambling is a serious issue and it can result in family breakups, bankruptcy, depression, and even suicide. This is why you need to be open about your issue and you also need to avoid hiding where your money is going. Often it becomes a hidden issue and at the same time, you may not know that there is an issue until it is too late.

If you feel as though you have an issue or are developing one, then you are certainly not alone. In fact, there is a checklist that you can use to try and pinpoint if you, or a loved one has a problem which we've added below.

  • Are they often late for work or school?
  • Are they gone for long periods of time?
  • Do they neglect responsibility?
  • Have they withdrawn from friends and family?
  • Do they have mood swings and outbursts of anger?
  • Do they not have much money anymore?
  • Is money missing from around the house?
  • Have they recently changed bank accounts to hide spending?
  • Are they ill-tempered about money?
  • Do they talk about gambling a lot?
  • Do they lie about gambling?

Help for Canadians is Readily Available

At the end of the day, counseling is a solid first step when it comes to taking back control of the issue. If you need some help with your gambling addiction then simply take a look below to find some helpful numbers:

British Columbia Problem Gambling Service: 1-888-795-6111
New Brunswick Gambling Hotline: 1-800-461-1234
Manitoba Gambling Helpline: 1-800-463-1554
Nova Scotia Gambling Helpline: 1-888-347-8888
Saskatchewan Gambling Helpline: 1-800-306-6789
Ontario Gambling Helpline: 1-888-230-3505
Prince Edward Island Addiction Program for Gambling: 1-888-299-8399
Québec - Gambling Referral: (514) 527-0140
Montreal Gambling Helpline: 1-800-461-0140

 Amanda Evans
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Amanda Evans Editorial Director

With more than 15 years of experience in the field, Amanda is in charge of organising and editing all featured content. She also manages a group of writers to guarantee that the information our Canadian readers receive about the iGaming sector is reliable. For further information, see Amanda's author profile.

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