Problem Gambling Defined
Gambling can be defined as any activity (e.g. a game of chance or skill) where an item of value is placed at risk in an attempt to gain something of greater value.
The term problem gambling has been used in different ways by the research community, ranging from individuals who fall short of the diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling to persons whose gambling behavior compromises, disrupts, or damages personal, family or vocational pursuits. According to National Council on Problem Gambling, this term is also used as a more inclusive category that encompasses a continuum of gambling difficulties, with pathological gambling at one end of the spectrum. A problem gambler dedicates more time, thought and money towards gambling.
Pathological gambling is a progressive disorder in which an individual has a psychologically uncontrollable preoccupation with an urge to gamble, resulting in damage to vocational, family and social interests. It is characterized by a chronic and progressive inability to resist the impulse to gamble. It was first diagnosed and recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 and published in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV).
To be diagnosed as a pathological gambler, an individual must meet at least five out of ten diagnostic criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association:
- thinks constantly about gambling
- increases bets to sustain thrill
- exhibits agitation when cutting back
- gambles as an escape
- chases losses
- lies to conceal activity
- finances bets through illegal acts
- jeopardizes significant relationships
- relies on financial bailout
- fails in effort to control or stop