The game of chance is known from the year 2000 BC, preceding the money itself. The game has been very present in many ancient civilizations, such as among the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, etc., with a special role, due to what was considered one of the main passions of the highest classes. Psychologically, the game of chance is a challenge to luck, through which a person projects his hopes to magically change the future in his favor, or at least to experience the pleasure of triumph against the risk of failure, thus translating a nonconformity with reality, a desire to escape from mediocrity or everyday monotony.
The use of chance in the game is considered fun when there is a control and a joy in the act itself, while it ceases to be when it involves suffering and lack of control. At the moment two important classifications stand out: one of the games and those of the own players. Several types of games have been distinguished, such as competition games, games of chance, risk games and rule games. Among the games of chance, four large classes of games are established: by their legality (licit and illicit); for his administration (public and private); for its content (slot machines, bingos, casinos, cards, lotteries and sports bets) and for its addictive power (very addictive and not very addictive).
The addiction to gambling, or pathological gambling, as it has also been called, is an addictive disorder characterized by uncontrolled behavior in relation to gambling. Gambling primarily consists of two steps, placing a bet and consequently winning or losing that same bet. But the problem is not placing the bet; the problem is really there when betting starts to become a problem, creating a liability and bringing negative consequences. The grand majority of pathological gamblers tend to refuse that they have a problem; they take the idea that they are actually making a lot of money through the game, and they rationalize that they are playing to earn money and thus be able to pay the gambling debts that have accumulated(C., Alvin). The individual’s progressive control loss and the impressive amount of money spent lead to economic and family problems, and moreover a lot of stress. This causes depression and anxiety that often endanger the life of the addict (Nordqvist, Christian). Moreover, addiction to gambling is the addiction most related to suicide attempts.
The pathological game was recognized as a psychological or mental problem, for the first time, at a world level, in 1980. It is considered as the addiction of the nineties, the one with the greatest frequency among impulse control disorders. The studies developed in Europe and North America show a prevalence of the disorder that exceeds 1% of the population (Becoña, 1998). Now, a certain consensus has been reached in which we talk about an estimate of 2-3% prevalence of the disorder in the population. And it is, within this percentage, 40% of cases fluctuate between 18-30 years The prevalence has been increasing in recent years due, in large part, to both the availability as access to the game that is, the existence of greater places to play (casinos, slot machines, lottery, races) and the opportunities to use those instances, such as access age and restrictions on access.
This increase in prevalence is reflected more in the male than in the female, in addition that men and women show different preferences for one type of game or another
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) estimates that one in five gambling addicts will attempt to kill themselves, about twice the rate of other addictions. It’s estimated that 18-25 percent of pathological gamblers will attempt suicide (Lynn J. Dell). According to the NCPG, there are about two million compulsive gamblers and four-to-six million problem gamblers in the U.S., this points out how significant is the suicide contribution that pathological gambling makes. It is believed that pathological gamblers turn to suicide due to economic reasons.
Gambling impacts every individual in an economical way, when addicts start losing money and not being able to maintain their gambling level. They often start to compromise their economic position and one of their loved ones since they start to ask for money loans in order to be able to gamble, consequently getting themselves into ever greater debt. “The amount of financial devastation you can wreak plays a big role,” says Keith Whyte, executive director of the NCPG. “You can bet $50,000 in a single hand, every minute.” (Lynn J. Dell ).The economic blows the addict receives are very strong, and in a money-based economy, it may take the individual to lose it all.
Furthermore, gambling addiction drastically changes peoples life, the intolerance to frustration, the inability to get in touch with their emotions, as well as the grandiosity, the feelings of low self-esteem and the big lie that they are going to win is a product of the double life that the addict usually develops. Focusing on the nuclear family, family neglect, and lack of communication begin to occur. The members of the family can act both as an inhibitor of the game behavior, becoming one of the main reasons for abandoning compulsive behavior, or as a trigger, giving problematic relationships.
As for the labor or academic environment, performance begins to diminish, demotivation appears, unjustified absences, individuals start abandoning responsibilities. “Addicts tend to forget their social life, there is inattention of friendships, they stop doing other types of leisure activities, and start losing significant relationships” (Nordqvist, Christian). As the player spends much of his time thinking about the game, he loses interest in both social relations and work and tends to ask or subtract money so that his relationship with others deteriorates as the problem progresses.
Reinsertion to the game is highly based on cognitive biases that are emphasized in pathological gambling. These skewed and erroneous thoughts are both risk factors that leave the behavior of pathological players (Becoña, 1998). Among the cognitive distortions we find:
– Illusion of control: Belief that the results of the game depend more on the activity itself than on chance (ex: I have a system to win).
– Luck as responsible for the results: Reference to personal luck as a predictive or explanatory factor of the game results (ex: I have a special luck).
– Superstitions: Accidental associations between a certain event or behavior and a prize, so that the player comes to believe that this event increases the probability of winning (ex: Echo the twenty coins in twenty because I think that way I have more chances to win).
– Predictions: Particular predictions about future results based on previous moves or a feeling or intuition (ex: Now I’m going to make money, because when many bananas leave …).
– Chance as a self-correcting process: Belief that the probability of a future event increases the longer the previous streak of the opposite event (ex: I have to be on the verge of winning because I have not won anything for a long time).
Becoña, E. (1998). Evaluation and treatment of pathological gambling. Encounters
overdevelopment agencies and their community-based approach. CPD de Cádiz
Lynn J. Dell, Mary F. Ruzicka & Anthony T. Palisi (1981) “Personality and Other
Factors Associated with the Gambling Addiction”, International Journal of the Addictions, 16:1, 149-156, DOI: 10.3109/10826088109038817.
Nordqvist, Christian. “Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Triggers, and
Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 19 June 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/15929.php.
C., Alvin, et al. “An Exploratory Study of Lottery Playing, Gambling Addiction and
Links to Compulsive Consumption.” ACR North American Advances, 1 Jan. 1990, w.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=9828