Let’s Talk About Your Gambling Problem: What is Compulsive Gambling Really all About?

Am I a compulsive gambler? What really is compulsive gambling? Is it an addiction like cocaine or heroin?

To truly understand compulsive gambling, you need to take a look at the brain. Simply put, there are a number of hormones that are released in the healthy brain that create endorphins that make you feel good. People who are prone to addiction have a deficiency of these hormones, or a chemical imbalance in the brain. For people with an imbalance in the brain, the “rush” that gambling creates actually mimics the release of these hormones in the brain, and makes the person feel good.

However, the feeling that gambling may produce in the brain, is not real, and it definitely is not permanent! The momentary ‘high’ that gambling produces will always result in a crash that will leave you feeling worse then when you started. In order to feel better, desperately, you will gamble again, and again. Only to be let down, over and over. Does this sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone!

Because compulsive gambling mimics a feel good feeling in the brain, it is very similar to other addictions. Just as with alcohol addictions and hard drugs such as cocaine, compulsive gambling is an addiction. But is the brain the only thing to blame when it comes to gambling? Of course not. There is more at work, than the physiology of the brain, but it is an important component.

Money is an important part of compulsive gambling; however it is not the only thing. Many people believe that gambling is all about winning money, and earning back what you have lost, but that’s not true at all. People who are addicted to gambling are addicted to the feeling that gambling provides. The thrill of winning, the feeling of power, of greatness! As was just explained, compulsive gambling is much more about a feeling than the money.

So if gambling is about a feeling, how is it that compulsive gambling is considered an addiction? Someone who has a gambling problem faces some of the same troubles as an individual with another, more identifiable addiction. The addict cannot stop gambling, despite the fact that they know they should, they live with broken lives, families falling apart and debt problems. Compulsive gamblers live in denial as they chase the big win trying to recapture the ‘high’ that they once felt gambling.

Compulsive gambling is a hidden addiction; it is not as easy to identify someone with a gambling problem as someone who is an alcoholic. So how do you spot someone with a gambling problem? How can you be sure if you or someone you love has a problem? And why is compulsive gambling really a problem? In the next email, I’ll outline symptoms to watch for in compulsive gambling.

Poker and Gambling Spend – UK

Gambling spend per household in the UK is on the up, particularly in the online sector and more so with online poker. Since the recent launch of Sky Poker TV channels, coupled with the list of high profile names now playing the game, the profile of the poker game itself has been raised along with expenditure. Online gambling has increased in general, and with the influx of online poker sites, poker gambling has become part of many people’s lifestyles, and indeed many people currently earn their living playing poker all year around.

Currently there are 4 poker channels that can be viewed by UK Sky subscribers and over 200 poker sites that can be played around the globe, making online gambling a form of entertainment and recreation that ranks alongside the cinema and bowling in terms of visits.

People in the UK love to gamble. The UK has one of the highest populations with the propensity to gamble (some 62%) only just behind Australia and Sweden, though surprisingly slightly less per population than the US where only 62% of the population gamble.

The Gambling Commission which was set up in 2005 following the UK Gambling Act of that year (the most significant change in gambling law in over 50 years) reports that the UK also has one of the biggest gambling spend per capita of any other country in Europe. A figure of £1266 per capita, collectively £76 billion a year, and 7.7% of GDP has been quoted in some press releases, compared to that of £600 per capita in 2004.

So of the 33 million people in the UK that gamble, what types of gambling are people spending their money on and where does poker fit in that list.

Well let us look first at the forms of gambling that are considered. You have betting on sports like dog racing and horse racing. You also have bingo, national lotteries, pools and scratch cards. There is also casino gambling and slot machine gambling, and then you have online gambling

The National lottery is the most popular form of gambling in the UK with 65% of the population buying lottery tickets. The next most popular is scratch cards which 22% of UK residents buy each week. Slot machine gambling comes in next with 14%, followed by horse/dog racing 13%, and pools, 9%.

It may come as a surprise that still only 3% of the population actually gamble online in online casinos or poker rooms. However, this just proves that there is still room for growth in the UK market. In general more men than women gamble online, except in the bingo sector where the percentage is 70% female to 30% male.

How much is being spent?

Average figures, provided by the Gambling Commission, show around £3.80 per household is spent each week on the National Lottery and some £4.00 per week spent on pools, scratch cards and other lotteries. £7.20 each week is spent on bingo, £5.00 for sports betting, and approximately £20 in land-based casinos. Approximately £10 per week is spent on online gambling and £5.00 on slot machines.

It is clear the online gambling is one of the major gambling expenditures in the UK. It is not clear how much is actually spent on online Poker, but considering poker sites makes up 75% of online gambling visits the amount is likely to be around £7.00 per household.

What is clear is that people love playing poker and it is not only men who have taken up this pastime. High profile female figures have begun to enjoy poker and the BBC reported one woman helping to support her family by playing poker at home.

With changes to the UK Gambling Act coming into force in September 2007, the government are suggesting that the Act will help reduce people propensity to gamble and will also protect children and problems gamblers. I will be a long time before proof of this is seen, but one thing is for sure, the profits raked in by the government on gambling taxes are set to grow alongside people’s desire to play their favourite game of online poker.

Children Gambling Online

Gambling can be fun, but it can also be a problem. The problem with Gambling is that it can be Addictive.

Gambling is big business in America, the Casinos and Bookmakers concerned are willing to spend huge amounts of money on advertising Campaigns. These advertising Campaigns are not selective, they are shown to people of all ages, and all walks of life.

The problem with these adverts is that, they can cause some people to become addicted to Gambling, or just to start Gambling in the first place. Children can see these adverts, and especially teenagers quite commonly get addicted to Gambling.

Your Child may be suffering from a Gambling addiction if they:

Suffer from lower school Grades.
Don’t go out as much.
Have low self esteem.
Steal things to make money.
Selling personal belongings.
Skipping school.
In debt.
Working to pay off debt.
Watches Gambling related TV programs.

If you have noticed your Child’s school grades slipping, then the reason could be because they are addicted to Gambling. Studying requires a lot of time and effort, if they are more interested in Gambling then their studies may slip.

Gambling can be quite expensive, to fund it your Child may sell their personal belongings, steal things, or be in substantial debt. They may even have a part time job to try to get themselves out of debt.
A Child may give up many of the extra curricular activities, that their school offers in order to give themselves more time to spend on Gambling. Parents are concerned that their Children are able to Gamble so easily.

The problem with the Internet is that it makes everything so much easier and more convenient, normally this is not a problem. But it is a problem when it makes it possible for Children to access materials and services, that they would not normally be allowed to access. Porn is a prime example, and it is extremely easy for an underage Child to access Porn on the Internet.

It’s also extremely easy for them to Gamble, and they can Gamble pretty much anywhere, and at anytime. If the Parents Gamble, then it is much more likely that the Children will also start to Gamble. We learn a lot about what we consider to be acceptable from our Parents, and we all ultimately grow up to be our Parents, no matter how much we try to resist it! If you smoke, then your Children are much more likely to smoke, it’s no different with Gambling.

If a Child develops a Gambling problem, then they are unlikely to grow out of it unless they get help. It could well affect the rest of their life. We can’t use the past to decide what will happen to these Children, Gambling Addictions in Children is a fairly new problem.

Only thanks to the Internet has Gambling in Children become a problem, therefore it is only a problem that affects the current generation of Children. All we can do is help our Children to help themselves, try to educate them.