The casino is an exciting place to visit. The majority of players visit the casino for entertainment. Playing the games is an enjoyable experience and the lure of winning money adds to a player's excitement. Some players enjoy the adrenaline rush and experience a high that accompanies the thrill when they risk their money on the games. For some this feeling can be seductive and alluring and some players succumb to the darker side of gambling, addiction.
In the broadest sense, addictive or pathological gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. Addictive gambling is sometimes referred to as the "hidden illness," because there are no visible physical symptoms. The American Psychological Association classifies compulsive gambling as a mental health disorder of impulse control. It is a chronic and progressive disease that is both diagnosable and treatable. About 2 to 4 percent of Americans have an active gambling problem.
The process of getting addiction to gambling comprises three clearly identifiable phases:
Phase 1: The excitement and winning phase
In this phase, gamblers often experience a big win, or a series of wins. This experience may lead them to the illusion that their wins are a result of their own intuitive actions rather than due to pure luck. Losses are viewed as the result of external causes that can be explained, and often they are glossed over and played down. There is a reason to be concerned when a gambler continuously spends a large amount of money or takes out a loan. All loans have only one purpose: to continue gambling.
Phase 2: The losing phase
In the next phase, obsessive gamblers mostly use money they borrowed. They try to keep these loans a secret. Generally, in this stage, obsessive gamblers slowly distance themselves from family and friends on their way to total isolation. However, they are convinced that they can get their debts under control again. "As soon as I have paid off my debts, I quit gambling", it is a common statement during this phase.
Phase 3: The desperation phase
Finally gambling becomes an all-day activity that dominates the gambler's entire life. This leads to the loss of relationships, work, and recognition. The transition between a gambling problem and gambling addiction is not a clear-cut process but not every phase automatically leads to the next level.
What you can do against gambling addiction
Where to find help
Please contact one of the many organizations and self-help groups for gamblers, such as:
"Gamblers Anonymous" (GA) , the world's largest self-help organization for people with gambling addiction, has developed a questionnaire to assess a person's addiction to gambling.
A gambling addiction should not be played down! An addiction is a serious condition. It is no shame to suffer from this condition but it is a shame not to do anything to fight it!