Gambling is big business in America. Every year, it earns the gaming industry billions of dollars in net revenue. We spend more money each year on legal gambling than on movie tickets, recorded music, theme parks, spectator sports, and video games combined. Lots of people gamble. But some people can’t stop – no matter what the cost.
Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is a type of impulse-control disorder. Compulsive gamblers can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when they know their gambling is hurting themselves or their loved ones. Pathological gambling has been recognized as a major addiction illness, similar in many ways to the chemical dependency of cocaine.
What’s the real issue?
Problem gambling isn’t just a financial concern. It is an emotional problem that has financial consequences. If you pay all of a problem gambler’s debts, the person will still be a problem gambler. The frequency of a person’s gambling does not determine whether or not they have a gambling problem. Even if they go on only one gambling binge a year, they can still hurt themselves and their families.
The National Council on Problem Gambling recommends that gamblers who suspect they might have a problem, to ask themselves these questions:
1. Have you often gambled longer than you had planned?
2. Have you often gambled until your last dollar was gone?
3. Have thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep?
4. Have you used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid?
5. Have you made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling?
6. Have you broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling?
7. Have you borrowed money to finance your gambling?
8. Have you felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses?
9. Have you been remorseful after gambling?
10. Have you gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations?
If you answer yes to more than one question, you may have a problem. Get treatment.