Gambling Addiction Causes

(Also Known As: Gambling Causes, Gambling Problem Causes, Gaming Causes, Gaming Addiction Causes, Addiction Causes, Compulsion Causes, Impulse Control Disorder Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Gambling Addiction?

Gambling in itself is not a problem unless the person has the compulsion to engage with gambling despite not having the means to sustain their gambling activity, especially financially, that is often associated with other related problems such as affecting relationships and employment.

Gambling tolerance is one cause of gambling addiction, similar to being high on drugs; gamblers have the compulsion to feel the rush of taking the risks involved with gambling. Moreover, gamblers are likely to believe in the system of luck and the huge profit to enjoy which is tantamount to betting bigger amounts. Some possible causes for compulsive gambling include the following:

  • Believing in a game system that will make them win big in a short time.
  • The feeling that they are lucky enough to win.
  • The belief that luck is on their side such as when they have lost and believe the machine will soon pay out.
  • The intense experience of good and bad luck.
  • The belief that they can always win back their losses by chasing the game.

There are also different phases of the development of Gambling addiction:4

1st Phase

  • Gambling is considered as a pastime that gives excitement, amusement, and a fun experience of self-esteem when winning. The losses of the gambler are justifiable with cycles of losses and winning and once the gambler runs out of gambling funds they will borrow to be able to play again.

2nd Phase

  • This is the losing phase where the gambler begins to gamble with borrowed money which are taken from their saving accounts, from other people, or borrowed from banks. Oftentimes the gambler begins to keep this activity secret from family members, leading to further borrowing of bigger amounts. This phase also initiates the beginning of conflicts with people around the gambler as they begin to promise to stop their gambling activities but fail to do so.

3rd Phase

  • This is the desperate phase where the gambler takes a full time occupation of gambling. There are several obtrusive activities that the gambler engages in and often does illegal acts in order to obtain money. The gambler begins to experience nervousness, irritability, and restlessness. They begin to experience both mental and physical exhaustion that, when severe, can lead to pathological gambling where mental illness becomes an associated problem with gambling.

Hormonal Cause

The development of gambling addiction and compulsive gambling is also linked to hormonal influences. Norepinephrine is primarily responsible for the arousal and risk taking impulse in compulsive gambling, while dopamine is a part of the body’s reward system that allows us to seek pleasure from something which has a strong affinity with the development of addiction to gambling. These hormones can together encourage the development of pathological gambling.

Personality Causes

The development of compulsion to gambling may be owed also to the kind of personality of the gambler. Some have difficulty with coping with depression, anxiety, and stress that they often resort to gambling as a diversion from experiencing these unpleasant emotional states. Some often have the compulsion for tolerance where they are more inclined to gamble to experience the excitement of risk taking involved with gambling.

The development of gambling addiction encompasses several possible causes that may include inherited components where family history of gambling addition increases the risk for compulsive gambling. Probable causes are also associated with emotional immaturity, insecurity, and the reluctance to take responsibilities with the subconscious feeling by an individual of wanting to lose money as a way to punish their selves.5

The past life experiences of a person can also influence the development of addiction in gambling which may be brought about by a stressful environment rooted from childhood and adolescent and past traumatic event.

The environment also plays a significant role in the development of gambling addiction. If their peers are fond of gambling, especially in casinos where the thrill of winning is much more exciting owing to the grandiose prizes they could possibly win alongside the complimentary bonuses offered by casinos to increase the compulsion of their patrons to gamble more in their establishment, can also pose a risk to the development of gambling addiction. Casino establishments are tempting places to gamble where one could experience extreme tolerance of winning huge prizes from different casino games.

Could You Have Gambling Addiction?

Gambling Addiction Topics

Related Conditions

Alcohol Addiction – alcohol abuse, withdrawal, dipsomania, alcohol dependence, tolerance
Impulse Control Disorder – pathological gambling, compulsive gambling, obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder – extreme anger, uncontrolled rage, mood changes, sudden outbursts, impulsive behavior
Kleptomania – Urge to hoard things, inability to resist the urge to steal something, urge to commit theft, paranoia
Pyromania – impulsive desire to start fire to relieve tension, obtains self gratification after setting a fire, euphoria, psychosis