Gambling is the voluntary wagering on an occasion with an uncertain outcome in the hope of winning some other thing of equal value with the same intention. The essential ingredients for a successful gambling venture are: risk, consideration, and a prize to be won. Gambling, in the strictest sense, involves the use of “bets” or predictions with no real or imagined assurance of win or loss. The reason that gambling has been called “sport” is because, though it may involve risk, the odds of success are very high indeed.
The problem with many addictions, from alcoholism to nicotine and food addiction, is that they are undertaken with the expectation of a reward at the end – or at least a perceived reward. It is the “reward” that causes the addict’s urge to return to the addiction. In gambling addiction, the reward is the amount of money won. In food addiction or nicotine addiction, the reward is the fix or “fixer” that can be gotten at the end of the “purchase” of the product. In both cases, the addict relies on the substance they need at the time for the fix; and the absence of the substance triggers strong cravings, making it difficult, if not impossible, to stop using the substance.
The next ingredient in gambling addiction is higher risk. To put it in simple terms, in gambling the higher the risk, the higher the likelihood that one will lose and the higher the chance of “loss” and related emotions. The higher risk in gambling is caused by the increase in the possible losses due to both intrinsic factors and external factors. These include the aforementioned three and the tendency of individuals to place bets irrespective of the true probability of a win or loss. Finally, higher risk in gambling is made possible by the absence of effective knowledge of the game and by the absence of effective techniques and strategies for managing risk.
The next ingredient is the understanding of the game. A person has to learn the game and how it works; he also needs to have a rational and realistic understanding of the risk and potential gains involved. Gambling addicts usually have problems with understanding the game because it is often perceived as ” immoral” or as having connections with money laundering or black-marketing. Addicts, therefore, try to avoid gambling situations unless they are forced to by some dire circumstances.
The last and most important component of the problem of gambling addiction is related to the act of gambling itself. For a person to become completely addicted to gambling, he must engage himself in such activities on a regular basis. If the gambler does not gamble, he will not develop a gambling problem. In fact, in many instances, those who gamble but do not engage in other gambling activities may be perceived as being psychologically healthy and free from addiction.
However, for the problem gambler, going out on a regular basis to engage in different gambling activities can lead to a serious erosion of personal values and responsibilities. It can also lead to financial problems if the gambler bets more than he can afford to lose. Addictions are very serious because they can cause great suffering to the victim and significant social, economic and occupational problems to the individuals who are close to the gambler. The problem of gambling addiction cannot be solved in one day or in one week. It takes time, patience and dedication to recover from gambling addictions.