Facts and Statistics About Compulsive Gambling

Kyle Oberholzer
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Do you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from a gambling addiction? This mental health disorder is probably more common than you realize. 

Up to ten million people in the United States suffer from gambling addiction. The fact that gambling is not illegal in the majority of jurisdictions can make it easier for people to justify engaging in risky gaming practices. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who are addicted to gambling are unaware that they have a problem with their behavior. Only 21% of inmates diagnosed with gambling addiction admitted to considering the possibility that their gaming was a problem. A better understanding of the realities of gambling addiction can help to reduce the associated stigma as well as the level of ambiguity that surrounds this condition, making it easier to locate and engage in professional treatment. 

Trends in Gambling 

Gambling is widely regarded as both legal and, for the most part, unproblematic. On the other hand, gambling trends indicate that the consequences for people who develop a gambling problem can be severe. Since the advent of the internet, the proliferation of online betting platforms and games of chance has contributed to the increased availability of gambling. Gambling has become more accessible to a larger number of people, increasing the number of lives negatively impacted by gambling. 

Gambling and the College Student Population 

Gambling is becoming increasingly popular among college students. According to a national study, one in every twenty college students in the United States meets the criteria for compulsive gambling. According to gambling statistics among college students, the rate of compulsive gambling among college students is more than twice that of the general adult population. The increasing availability of gambling opportunities on the internet could be one of the factors contributing to these high rates. According to some surveys, 23 percent of college students gamble online, with 6 percent of those students doing so every week every week. 

Home Gambling and Physical Abuse 

Gambling addiction affects more than just the person who engages in it. According to statistics, households with at least one parent who engages in compulsive gambling are more likely to experience domestic violence, which can include child abuse. Children of gambling addicts have an increased risk of developing depression, substance abuse, and behavioral issues later in life, even if gambling and domestic violence do not occur concurrently. 

Gambling and illegal activity are inextricably linked

Even though gaming is legal in the majority of states, there is a strong link between gambling and criminal activity. Approximately half of those who suffer from compulsive gambling are also criminals. The majority of these crimes are committed to earn earning money for gambling or to repay gambling debts. Fraud, forgery, embezzlement, larceny, shoplifting, burglary, and petty theft are common crimes committed by people who have gambling problems. There is a direct correlation between the intensity of compulsive gambling and an increase in criminal activity. To gain a better understanding of this connection, consider the following statistics on gaming and crime rates: 

  • More than two-thirds of compulsive gamblers admit to committing crimes directly related to gambling, and nearly forty percent admit that the only crimes they commit are related to gaming.¬†
  • Eighty to the ninetieth percent of people who attend Gamblers Anonymous admit to engaging in illegal activities to make money for gambling.¬†
  • 63 percent of Gamblers Anonymous members admitted to writing bad checks, and around 30 percent admitted to stealing from their workplaces.¬†
  • In comparison, approximately 26 percent of gamblers with a moderate severity problem reported engaging in illegal gambling activities, while nearly 70 percent of gamblers with a severe problem reported engaging in illegal gambling activities.¬†
  • According to a Georgia state estimate, the total lifetime cost of incarcerating a problem gambler could range between $2,950 and $2,210.¬†
  • According to the findings of a study conducted on Gamblers Anonymous members, 57 percent admitted to stealing to finance their gambling, with the total financial impact of their crime amounting to $30 million.¬†
  • Those who gamble compulsively are arrested seven times more frequently than those who never gamble.¬†

Gambling Addiction is a Common Problem 

The prevalence of gambling addiction is difficult to assess, particularly because many people who suffer from gambling addiction are unaware that they have a problem. On the other hand, data on the prevalence of gambling addiction in each state is readily available. According to the results of a WalletHub survey conducted in 2018, the state of Nevada has the highest percentage of gambling addiction. Furthermore, Nevada has been named the state with the best gambling conditions. Mississippi, Minnesota, Kansas, New Jersey, and Nevada had some of the second highest rates of gambling addiction. New Mexico, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, and Michigan had the lowest prevalence rates of gambling addiction. 

Adults Suffering from Compulsive Gambling 

Adult gamblers are far more likely than young gamblers to develop a gambling addiction. This increased incidence is most likely due to factors such as increased financial resources during adulthood and legal access to gaming. Adults’ warning signs of gambling addiction are frequently dismissed as the behavior of someone “having a good time.” However, when used as a distraction from the stresses of everyday life or to improve one’s mood, this behavior is likely to become problematic. When a person feels the need to hide their gambling behavior from their loved ones and when they experience feelings of guilt and shame after giving in to gambling cravings, they have a gambling addiction.¬†

Men and Women’s Problems with Compulsive Gambling¬†

Compulsive gambling is more common in men than in women, according to the findings of a study that compared the rates of gambling addiction in men and women. Why are men more likely than women to become addicted to gambling? This disparity may exist because female compulsive gamblers typically begin gambling at a later age. It is important to note, however, that when women begin gambling, they appear to develop a gambling addiction more quickly. This is something that should be taken into account. 

Problems with Gambling about Age 

According to the findings of one study that looked into the age at which gambling disorders first appear, 69 percent of teenagers said they began gambling before the age of 12. Gambling during formative years, such as adolescence and youth, increases the likelihood of developing a gambling addiction later in life. According to gambling addiction statistics, starting to gamble at a younger age is associated with a higher risk of developing a severe gambling addiction as well as poorer overall mental health. 

Ages 16-24 

Children and teenagers who play free online gambling games are more likely to gamble as adults. 

One in every 25 young people has a gambling problem

According to one of the most well-known gambling counseling services, the number of young adults using their services increased year after year between 2010 and 2013, with as many as 60% of calls coming from those aged 18 to 35. 

Ages 25-45 

The majority of those suffering from gambling addiction are young and middle-aged adults. 

45 years and older 

An elderly person who lives alone or in isolation may be more vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction than younger people. According to one survey, approximately 69 percent of people over the age of 61 bets at least once a year. It has been demonstrated that people of this age group have a particularly difficult time recognizing gambling as an addiction and understanding that it is a disease that can be treated. The vast majority of people in this age group regard compulsive gambling as immoral behavior. 

Statistics on Online Gambling 

Because many online gambling games can be played without using real money, they appear to be safer than other forms of gambling. However, statistics from online gambling show that playing these simulated gambling games increases the likelihood that a person will engage in subsequent gambling and engage in problematic gambling behaviors. The rise of online casinos has also made gambling more accessible. For example, a minor can easily provide a fictitious date of birth to gain access to gambling websites that are only intended for adults. 

Gambling Addiction and Other Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues 

Compulsive gamblers are more likely to have co-occurring personality disorders, depression, or anxiety, in addition to co-occurring substance addictions. Compulsive gamblers frequently exhibit other addictive behaviors. A decline in mental health has been linked to increased participation in online gambling, according to several studies. 

Depression and compulsive gambling are linked in a way that suggests a link between the two conditions. Although there are a few possible explanations for this correlation, it is unknown why gambling and depression go hand in hand. Because of the increased association between gambling and emotional highs, it is likely that when one is not gambling, one may experience feelings of depression. When someone who already has a gambling problem uses gambling to relieve the symptoms of depression, gambling addiction may develop. 

Suicidal Thoughts and Gambling Addiction Suicidal thoughts and gambling addiction have an alarmingly high correlation. According to gambling and suicide statistics that compare the incidence of both concurrent problems, it was discovered that roughly one in every five patients treated for suicidal ideation met the criteria for gambling addiction. Another study that looked at the link between compulsive gambling and suicidal ideation discovered that nearly half of those who took part in the study who had a gambling addiction also had suicidal ideation. 

PTSD and gambling: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms include experiencing distressing levels of stress and anxiety as a result of having previously been exposed to a traumatic event. There is a significant link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders, and there is some evidence that PTSD and gambling addiction are linked. Researchers discovered a link between post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and gambling addiction. This link between PTSD and gambling could be due to causes similar to the link between gambling and depression. People may gamble, for example, to cope with the unpleasant feelings associated with PTSD. 

Substance Abuse and Gambling Addiction: There is a significant rate of co-occurring gambling and substance abuse addiction. One out of every ten people who have a problem with compulsive gambling admits to having concerns about their substance use. Alcohol can be a particularly difficult barrier to overcome for people who have a gambling addiction. One in every three people seeking treatment for compulsive gambling in Oregon’s gambling treatment system also has a drinking problem. According to the findings of another study, the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among compulsive gamblers was as high as 73%. Because of the environment associated with gambling, there may be a greater likelihood of a link between alcoholism and gambling addiction than there is between other types of substance use disorders. Drinking is a common activity that occurs frequently in casinos, and most casinos have at least one bar.¬†

Statistics on the Current State of Treatment and Prognosis for Gambling Addiction 

Despite the fact that gambling addiction can be treated, data show that very few people with this illness seek professional help. More than sixty percent of those imprisoned who were aware of their gambling addiction indicated that they wanted help, but only twenty-five percent actually sought help. Only 5.4 percent of people with gambling addiction say they have received addiction therapy or have participated in self-help organizations related to gambling addiction. 

It is possible that outdated beliefs that compulsive gambling is not an addiction are to blame for the gap in recognizing the problem and gaining access to treatment. The idea that compulsive gambling is a recognized mental health disorder, as opposed to the widely held belief that it is a moral failing, has the potential to increase the number of people seeking treatment for the illness. 

Treatment options for gambling addiction are, in many ways, very similar to treatment options for other substance addictions. People who are unsure whether they have a gambling problem may benefit from motivational interviewing (MI), a technique aimed at increasing personal motivation and awareness of the negative consequences of a behavior. Motivational interviewing is a method of increasing personal motivation and awareness of the negative consequences of behavior. Another treatment option for compulsive gambling is cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Treatment for gambling addiction can range from inpatient treatment facilities and outpatient therapy to support groups and mutual aid organizations. Gamblers Anonymous is one of the most well-known and widely used support groups for people suffering from gambling addiction. This organization, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, follows a 12-step program and emphasizes the value of peer support. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with multiple substance addictions, such as gambling and substance abuse, there is help available. At The Recovery Village, a team of qualified medical experts will collaborate with you to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses all of your specific areas of concern. Call us right now to speak with a representative and learn more about the various treatment options that are available to you.