Problem and Pathological Gambling Definitions

| August 27, 2013

There are many definitions of what people think is “gambling.” So what is it, really?

Gambling (or “betting” or gaming”) is any behavior that involves the risking of money or valuables on the outcome of a game, contest, or other event. This event or game may be in part or totally dependent upon chance.

Gamblers Anonymous defines gambling as: “Betting or wagering, for self or others, whether for money or not, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or skill.”

For most people, gambling is something done for fun and recreation. One might buy a Powerball ticket, play some Bingo, bet on a sporting event, or play video lottery. The facts are that the majority of Oregonians gamble with little or no adverse consequences; they are commonly considered “social gamblers.”

But for some, gambling becomes a problem–and for some, uncontrollable. Disordered gambling destroys families, friendships, finances and hopes, and for some, even life itself.

Gambling on a continuum

Disordered / Problem Gambling

According to the American Psychiatric
Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed., 2013), disordered gambling is a behavioral addiction. A gambling disorder is “persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress” and is diagnosed if the person has four or more of the following in the past year:

  1. Needs to
    gamble with increasing amounts of money
    in order to
    achieve the desired excitement.
  2. Is restless or irritable with attempting to cut down or stop
  3. Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or
    stop gambling.
  4. Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
  5. Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
  6. After
    losing money gambling, often returns
    another day to get
    even (“chasing” one’s losses).
  7. Lies to
    conceal the extent of involvement
    with gambling.
  8. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or
    career opportunity
    because of gambling.
  9. Relies on
    others to provide money
    or relieve desperate financial
    situations caused by gambling.

Gambling disorder can range from mild to severe.

Do you know someone who might have a gambling disorder? There is free and confidential help. Call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (1-877-695-4648) or visit for help today.
Signs ofProblem Gambling | Does someone I know have a problem?

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Category: Prevention Basics, Problem Gambling

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