Gambling Disorders – Why Do People Gamble?


Throughout history, people have wagered money and other items of value on random events with the hope of winning something else of value. In modern times, gamblers can wager on sports events, horse races, casino games and even lottery draws. Many people engage in gambling for social reasons, such as betting on a friend’s hand at cards or throwing the dice with their friends. People can also gamble for financial reasons, hoping to win a jackpot that will change their lives. Others gamble to pass the time or to relieve boredom.

Many people who engage in gambling do not develop harmful behaviour, but for those whose actions become a problem, it is important to understand why they continue to play. This can help them stop and seek help for their gambling addiction.

A person’s personality, environment and genetic predisposition are factors that influence how likely they are to develop problems with gambling. For example, some people have a strong tendency to be impulsive and will easily lose control of their behavior in the face of an immediate reward. They may find it hard to resist the temptation to throw the dice again after a big win. These individuals are at higher risk of developing a gambling disorder.

The psychiatric community has long viewed pathological gambling as a type of impulse control disorder, which includes other impulsive behaviours such as kleptomania (stealing) and pyromania (setting fires). In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the American Psychiatric Association has moved pathological gambling from its own section to the Addictions chapter, putting it alongside other addictive behaviors such as cocaine use and alcohol abuse.

In addition to this, the DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of a gambling disorder include damage or disruption to the individual’s life, loss of control over their gambling activities and preoccupation with gambling. Despite these criteria, many psychiatrists have different views about how gambling should be classified and what is involved in the treatment of a person who has developed a problem with this activity.

Some people who enjoy gambling for social or financial reasons can easily walk away from their game, while others may continue to gamble until they spend all their money or even more. For some, this can be due to their irrational belief that a series of losses is a sign of a coming win or that they can win back their money by continually upping their bets. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with gambling, including the possible onset of an addiction. By attending Safeguarding Training courses, you can learn how to spot and address potential issues before they escalate. You will also gain knowledge of the best practices to follow when working with vulnerable adults.