By Jack Elever, Marketing Manager, UK Interactive
Addiction is a serious problem for millions of people across the globe. Addictions are not limited to physical substances that we consume, like alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. They can also be abstract things like gambling. Left untreated, any addiction can become pathological and dangerous.
Although gambling addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race or social status, some people and vulnerable social groups are at a higher risk of developing problem gambling or compulsive gambling behaviors. Knowing who might be at a greater risk can help to improve responsible gambling awareness.
With that in mind, here are a few facts about gambling addiction and those who are most vulnerable to it.
Many problem gamblers are also alcoholics
It is not uncommon for people who suffer from gambling addictions to also suffer from substance abuse, with alcohol and nicotine being the most commonly abused substances. In fact, studies have found that there are notable parallels between gambling and alcohol.
A 2013 report from Alcohol Concern Cymru and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) in Wales, reported that one in six survey respondents who said that they sought help for alcohol misuse, also admitted they experienced problems with gambling.
Compulsive gamblers often suffer from mental health problems
Gambling addiction has been linked to serious mental illness. In some cases, pathological gambling is the cause of a mental illness, while in other cases it can be the result of a mental health problem that has gone untreated. Two of the most common mental disorders associated with gambling problems are depression and anxiety.
The belief is that for some who suffer from these mental health ailments, playing the slots, cards or rolling the dice can help them relax, have fun or even escape reality. Unfortunately, over time, gambling only makes depression and anxiety worse. Other mental illnesses that have been associated with compulsive gambling include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and (ADHD) and bipolar disorder.
Men are more likely to be addicted to gambling than women
Men are at a far greater risk of developing gambling problems compared to women. According to 2015 statistics regarding gambling behavior in Great Britain, men are 7.5 times more likely than women to be classified as problem gamblers. One of the reasons is believed to be that men’s personality traits typically make them more predisposed to problem gambling. They tend to be higher risk takers and more impulsive compared to women.
That being said, even though men tend to have a higher rate of gambling addiction compared to women, more women are compulsive gamblers today than ever before. Women make up an estimated one-quarter of all compulsive gamblers and their compulsive gambling symptoms tend to develop quicker than men.
Problem gambling is growing among children
According to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the nation’s gambling regulator, an estimated more than 2 million people in the UK are either considered problem gamblers or are at risk of addiction. What’s even more troubling is this underage gambling research reported in PlayOJO’s guide to “Play Responsibly”. It reveals, among other facts, that a 2016 report from the UKGC indicated that 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales every week.
Worse still, this same report found that 9,000 of the 450,000 children are suspected to be problem gamblers. New and improved gambling technology is believed to be one of the primary reasons behind the increase in underage gambling addiction. These technologies make gambling more attractive to young people and more accessible. This is a concern because it is strongly suspected among researchers that taking part in gambling activities at a young age, could lead to these youths engaging in even more gambling activities once they reach adulthood.
Keep in mind that even though there are certain individuals who may be more vulnerable to gambling addiction than others, this doesn’t mean that only they are affected. Under the right circumstances, anyone can become an addict. It is for this reason that it’s imperative for anyone who gambles to take the necessary steps to ensure that they do so legally at a socially responsible gambling establishment and always remain in control of their play.
Gambling addiction – https://www.medicinenet.com/gambling_addiction/article.htm
Research on underage gambling – https://www.playojo.com/responsible-gaming/underage-gambling/
Unusual gambling facts – https://www.addictions.com/gambling/10-gambling-addiction-facts-probably-dont-know/