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Psychological Aspects of Gambling Addiction

What is Gambling?
Gambling consists of making a bet on the outcome of some event. Bets may be placed on horse races, sports contests, or games of chance such as dice, cards, bingo, lottery, slot machines, or roulette. Bets usually consist of money or other assets which are won or lost depending on whether a correct or an incorrect prediction is made. The prospect of winning a large jackpot sometimes motivates people to take unusual financial risks and may lead to gambling addiction.

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Moral and Legal Prohibitions
Gambling is usually considered immoral because it contributes to greater poverty, and those who lose their money may be tempted to steal or commit crimes to pay their debts or continue gambling. The seven deadly sins are lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy, and pride. Gambling is seen as the manifestation of greed and laziness since gamblers desire to get rich quickly with little investment and without working.

In the United States, most states prohibit gambling. Violations of the laws are considered misdemeanors or felonies punishable by fines and prison. However, most gambling statutes only criminalize games of chance in which no skill is required, and they make exceptions for state-controlled gambling and social gambling. The laws are aimed primarily at the type of gambling operations that can be used to finance organized crime.

Exploitation of human frailty
In spite of the moral objections to gambling, many churches and state governments sponsor revenue-generating activities through bingo, lotteries, raffles, and other games of chance which are structured to always pay less than the revenue that they produce. The odds are in favor of the game operator and the gambler has little chance of winning in the long run. It has been been estimated that the chance of getting hit by lightning is much higher than the chance of winning a large lottery jackpot. Even though people understand that the chance of winning is very small, they buy lottery tickets because if they don't play they cannot win, and someone will eventually win. Losing a few dollars is seen as fairly insignificant compared to the prospect of winning millions of dollars. The pressure to increase officially-sponsored gambling is very great because when state governments do not provide ways for people to gamble within the state, millions of dollars drain away to adjoining states that permit gambling.

Psychological and financial incentives
Casinos are some of the most profitable businesses in the world which do not produce a product. Although casinos are highly regulated by government agencies to reduce scams and cheating, the public is seldom aware of the odds of winning any particular game. Casinos have mastered the art of temptation. A barrage of psychological and economic incentives are designed to part you from your money. Once you have have made a bet and lost some money, you have a greater motivation to continue betting in order to recover your losses. Unless you are extremely disciplined and stop betting, trying to recover a gambling loss can start a vicious cycle in which you keep losing against the casino. In the end, the casino always wins because the odds are stacked in its favor.

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Psychological Incentives:

Financial Incentives:

When is Gambling a Problem?
Gambling is a problem when a person cannot control how much he or she spends. A slot machine in the high roller area may cost from $100 to $500 per pull. It is easy to lose thousands of dollars in five minutes of play. This is more than a typical person can earn in any job or profession. Here are some of the signs that a person needs help:

Take this quick quiz to determine whether you have a gambling problem.

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you should consider counseling.

Learning Discipline
Here are some suggestions to keep gambling from becoming a problem in your life:


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