What is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive or pathological gambling, is considered an impulse control disorder.
According to the American Psycological Association, “Gambling disorder involves repeated, problem gambling behavior. The behavior leads to problems for the individual, families, and society.“
It’s important to note that not all individuals with gambling problems exhibit a complete loss of control. Problem gambling can be described as any gambling behaviour that disrupts daily life, but is less significantly.
What are the symptoms of Compulsive Gambling?
Indicators of a gambling problem are often comparable to the signs of other types of addiction. Some common signs of addiction include, but are not limited to:
- Secrecy surrounding gambling habits
- Difficulty in controlling the frequency and extent of gambling
- Continuing to gamble even when it is not affordable
- Concern expressed by friends and family members
A hallmark sign of gambling addiction is the inability to stop. If the urge to gamble continues even after repeated attempts to quit, or if feelings of anxiety arise when considering cessation.
Gambling issues frequently coincide with other mood or behavioural disorders. Many individuals who struggle with gambling also struggle with substance abuse, untreated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
What does the iGaming Industry do to stop Compulsive Gambling?
In serious and legal online gambling sites, crypto casinos, decentralised lottery sites, etc. there are several strategies in place to fight gambling disorders. Studies are being conducted on the impact of each of these strategies, which prove to be successful to a degree.
Here are the most common strategies that online gambling sites have to employ in order to operate legally in the US territories that have declared online gambling legal:
- Customer support is trained for instances of gaming addiction and is able to direct customers towards helpful resources.
- Online gambling sites monitor harmful behaviours across all their registered players.
- Legal gambling sites offer tools for self-exclusion from gambling which can be temporary or permanent.
- An obligation in setting gambling limits, that have to be set before anyone can start betting or gambling on legal sites.
- Prevent access to gambling to underaged population
Here are the Internet Responsible Gaming Standards by the National Council of Problem Gambling.
Gambling Addiction Statistics in the US
It is estimated that in 2022 as many as 10 million people in the United States have a gambling addiction.
Despite the fact that gambling is legal in many of it forms, it can be tempting for individuals to engage in dangerous gambling behaviours. Regrettably, the majority of individuals affected by gambling addiction do not perceive it as a problem.
While gambling is legal in many US States and typically does not pose a problem for the majority of individuals, it is crucial to note that the consequences can be severe for those who get a gambling addiction. The growth of the iGaming industry has led to increased accessibility to gambling activities via desktop or mobile phones. As a result, the number of individuals who have suffered negative consequences due to gambling has also risen.
Studies and statistics show impressive numbers connected to Gambling and online gambling in the US.
- 75% of adults in the US (about 194 million people) have gambled at least once in the past year
- 15% of adults in the US gamble on a weekly basis
- 1-2% of the US population suffers from a gambling disorder, even in States where gambling is illegal, like Haway. As mentioned, this results in 10 million people with a gambling disorder.
- The number of people affected by a gambling disorder might be on the rise. This might be the result of isolation and removal of sports activities due to Covid 19 pandemic restrictions, according to a study by Anders Håkansson in Frontiers in Psychology
- A November 2021 study by the National Institute of Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism shows how it is 23 times more likely for alchool addictcs to incur into a gambling addiction.
- In 2017 it was estimated that the losses connected to gambling losses by U.S. consumers accounted to more than 100.000 billion US Dollars per year.
US States most affected by Gambling Addiction
A study by Wallethub.com identified these 10 States as the ones with most citizens affected by gambling addiction:
- South Dakota
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
Gambling Disorder in the US by Age Group
A report on gambling disorders by The Recovery Village found that 69% of adolescents reported starting to gamble before the age of 12, raising the risk of developing compulsive gambling. Research shows that the early onset of gambling is linked to increased severity of addiction and worse overall mental health.
Young adults, aged 16-24, who play free online gambling games are at higher risk of becoming problem gamblers as adults. It’s estimated that 1 in 25 teens has a gambling problem. A leading gambling advice service reported a yearly increase in young adult callers, with 60% of calls coming from those between 18-35.
Compulsive gambling is most prevalent among younger and middle-aged people, aged 25-45. Older adults, aged 45 and above, may be more susceptible to compulsive gambling if they experience loneliness or isolation. One study found that 69% of adults over 61 years old gamble each year, however, they have a harder time recognizing gambling as an addiction and accepting it as a treatable condition.
Gambling Addiction in Men and Women
A comparison of gambling addiction in men and women reveals a stark disparity, with compulsive gambling being more prevalent among men. This raises the question, why are men more susceptible to gambling addiction? One possible explanation is that women typically commence gambling at a later stage in life. This time difference could result in a lower risk of developing compulsive gambling habits.
According to the site Debt.org, females individuals with a gambling disored accumulate an average debt of $15k, while a male individual with gambling disorders accumulates an average debt between $55.k and $90k.
However, it is also worth considering that when women do start gambling, they appear to become addicted quicker. This could be due to various factors, such as heightened emotional involvement in the activity, or the influence of peer pressure. Despite the disparity in prevalence, both men and women can be equally affected by the destructive consequences of gambling addiction.
Compulsive Gambling and Criminal Activity
A gambling problem getting out of control can lead to legal problems and is often correlated to criminal activities. Here are some gambling addiction statistics related to illegal activities:
- More than 80% of Gamblers Anonymous members have resorted to theft to finance their gambling, with a combined financial loss to theft equaling $30 million
- 40% of compulsive gamblers admit to committing crimes related to gambling, stating that these crimes are the only ones they commit
- 30% of Gamblers Anonymous reported stealing from work
- 63% of Gambler Anonymous reported writing bad checks
Statistics on Gambling addiction Treatment in the US
Statistics show that 5.4% only of individuals with a gambling addiction have sought treatment or participated in self-help groups. Despite a reported desire for help among 60% of incarcerated individuals with awareness of their gambling addiction, only 25% have pursued professional assistance. These statistics highlight the low rate of individuals with gambling addiction seeking support for their disorder, despite its treatability.
Here are some useful resources for those affected by gambling disorders: