Gambling can be great fun. Who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of a big win? But despite how exhilarating it may be, betting can also be harmful in certain circumstances. After all, you are putting your money at risk. Moreover, research has established that gambling could trigger addiction-like behaviors in some people. That is why you need to exercise caution and ensure you play responsibly.

What Is Compulsive Gambling?

Compulsive gambling, also known as gambling disorder, is a condition where the individual feels an uncontrollable need to continue betting, to the detriment of their mental, physical, or financial health. Much like people suffering from substance abuse struggle to resist their urges, compulsive gamblers have difficulty staying away from casinos, even when they do not have the time or money left to continue playing. It is a serious condition that may jeopardize your mental and physical health, and significantly impact your relationships with others.

Why Is Gambling Addictive?

According to medical research, winning money from casino games stimulates the brain’s reward response. This can lead to the release of dopamine, making the individual feel happy. So, while gambling does not cause a physical dependence like alcohol or drugs, it can be psychologically addictive. People suffering from gambling disorders become dependent on the release of happy hormones that come from winning, and continue to seek that feeling even when the conditions are not favorable.

The Symptoms of Compulsive Gambling

It is essential that you learn about the warning signs of gambling addiction before playing casino games. Knowing how to recognise potentially harmful behavior patterns can contribute to more responsible play. It would put you in a better position to solve the problem before it becomes overwhelming and go back to the enjoyment of play.

Though the symptoms may vary and not all people experience everything on this list, be aware of these early signs of possible gambling addiction:

  • A compulsive need to keep playing even after consecutive losses or when facing unfavorable odds;
  • Trouble sticking to commitments at work or at home, such as being late, missing deadlines or appointments, etc.;
  • Losing interest in other activities and hobbies you previously enjoyed;
  • Getting into more conflicts with friends and family, relationship problems;
  • Feeling like you need to lie or misrepresent how much time or money you spend betting;
  • Decreased mood, higher anxiety, stomach issues, trouble sleeping, and more.

This list is not exhaustive, but it may give you an idea of how to spot if you or a loved one may be struggling with a gambling addiction. If you believe that to be the case, please consult the following resources:

GamCare (UK)

National Council on Problem Gambling (US)

Gamble Aware

Priory Group