Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is determined, at least in part, by chance. People gamble for many reasons, including the thrill of winning, socialising or escaping from stress or worries. However, for some people gambling can get out of control. If you have a problem, it is important to seek help. There are treatment options, support groups and self-help tips that can help you.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a serious but treatable condition. It affects between 0.4-1.6% of the US population. Typically, a person with PG develops their problem in adolescence or young adulthood and it can persist for several years. Males are more likely to develop PG and tend to have a problem with strategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker. Females, on the other hand, may have a problem with nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling such as slot machines or bingo.
Various factors can influence whether a person is at risk of developing a gambling disorder, including:
(1) Age – Gambling patterns tend to be more pronounced in younger and middle-aged adults. This is likely due to the greater availability of societal gambling opportunities in these age groups.
(2) Sex – Compulsive gambling is more common in men than women. However, there are increasing numbers of women who have developed a problem with gambling.
(3) Family and friends – A person who has a close relative with a gambling problem is at greater risk of developing a gambling disorder.