Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves risking something of value (such as money or a valuable item) on an event that has a random outcome, with the hope of winning more than what was staked. It is often a fun and harmless diversion, but it can also become an addictive behavior that leads to serious financial and personal problems.

Many people with gambling disorders may experience symptoms such as: lying to family members, friends, or therapists about their involvement in gambling; hiding funds, assets, or accounts to conceal the extent of their involvement in gambling; betting more than they can afford to lose, or chasing losses; using credit cards or other sources of money that are not yours to finance gambling; and spending time with other gamblers, either online or in person.

While much of the research regarding gambling is observational, longitudinal studies are becoming more common and more sophisticated and theory based. Longitudinal studies follow the same group of individuals over a long period of time and allow researchers to examine how a respondent’s gambling patterns develop, change or get extinguished.

In the past, the psychiatric community largely viewed pathological gambling as a compulsion rather than an addiction. However, in the 1980s, the American Psychiatric Association officially classified pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder, along with kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair pulling). This move placed it among other impulse-control disorders like bulimia and binge-eating. The prevailing view now is that it should be considered an addiction.

Posted in: Gambling