Gambling Addiction Myths and Facts: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask


Posted: February 14, 2020

Updated: February 14, 2020

  • There are lots of myths and controversies surrounding gambling addiction
  • Most of the people who gamble are engaged in casual gambling
  • People amongst all ages can be gambling addicts
  • Sustainable and responsive gambling prevents people from becoming pathological gamblers

The feeling of uncertainty about results is probably the most attractive thing about gambling. However, some people quickly become obsessed with this feeling and develop a pathological gambling addiction. Today we are going to take a deeper look at the most controversial gambling addiction myths and facts. 

Myth: Gambling is not an addiction 

People tend to think that only certain substances can be addictive. Unfortunately, all the activities which stimulate reward pathways can cause addiction. The World Health Organization has recently included compulsive gambling into the disease registry.

It seems that gambling is similar to activities like shopping, gaming and binge eating. Everything that causes “liking” – from a chocolate bar to a $1000 bet – activates the “wanting” mechanism.

Generally speaking, all the addicts share the same feature: their “liking” pathway is getting weaker while the “wanting” pathway is constantly triggered. Therefore, people receive less pleasure from the activity and they have to spend more time doing it. This causes shopping addicts spending more money on clothes and gambling addicts putting higher bets. Studies suggest that pathological engagement into addictive activities causes reward pathways to malfunction. 

Myth: Most of the people who gamble are pathological gamblers

The highest rate of gamblers is recreational gamblers – people who gamble occasionally. Despite pathological gambling is a serious issue, the number of compulsive gamblers is relatively small. For example, the overall percentage of people with serious gambling problems in the US is 0.9. In the UK, 1% of the population are problem gamblers. Most of the people are somehow involved in casual social gambling. This includes activities like buying a lottery ticket or spending a friend’s bachelor party in a casino. 

According to the statistics, people from the countries where land-based and online casinos were legalized recently tend to have more problems with gambling. The average amount spent in Las Vegas is $505.44 per capita, which is not that bad compared to over $916 in Singapore. Therefore, sustainable and responsive gambling will prevent people from falling into addiction. 

Myth: Gambling industry encourages gambling addiction at all costs

These days the brand’s image can be very much affected by the rise of public awareness. Last year, the chief executive of NHS England stated that gambling companies should have spent more money on addiction treatment. In response to this appeal, companies like Bet 365 decided to increase the amount of money spent on treating gambling addiction by 0.9%. This means that online gambling sites in the UK are going to donate over £60 million to help gambling addicts. 

Myth: Gambling has a negative effect on your brain

As mentioned earlier, compulsive gambling affects people’s brains by weakening their reward pathways. However, occasional gambling in a trusted social circle may not only strengthen social ties but stimulate the brain. For example, games like blackjack are rather based on mathematical skills than on pure luck. And no, counting cards is not illegal – if the casino staff notices you counting, they will simply take countermeasures. 

The ability to weigh risks against funds also seems to have a positive effect on our brains. Elderly people who are occasionally engaged in safe and responsible gambling are less likely to have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

And if you would like to know more about how gambling addiction affects the brain, take a look at the Advantages Of Gambling For Our Physical And Mental Health. 

Myth: Older people are more likely to develop gambling addiction

There are certain risk factors that increase the chances of someone developing gambling addiction. For instance, people who have addicts in their family or those who suffer from drugs or alcohol dependence are more likely to become compulsive gamblers. However, it doesn’t mean that others are out of the woods. 

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Moreover, people who gamble from a young age have a greater chance of becoming pathological gamblers. Although in most of the countries there is an age limit for gambling, 41% of teenagers said they have gambled in the past year. Moreover, around 40% of compulsive gamblers state that they have started to gamble at a young age.

Interestingly, there is a small difference between men and women when it comes to occasional gambling. However, studies suggest that male gamblers are 7.5 more likely to develop an addiction. Some people say that this stems from biological differences, while others assume it comes from the casino culture which favors male clients. 

Gambling addiction myths and facts: conclusion

Some people say that the best way to prevent compulsive gambling is to prohibit potential addicts from all forms of gambling. However, as we mentioned earlier, limiting the exposure to online and offline casinos would not solve the problem. Instead, educating both younger and older people, and promoting the “conscious” approach to gambling would decrease the rate of problem gamblers. And if you can’t find the trustworthy gambling websites, check out our list of online betting sites in the UK.

Click here to visit BET365

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