Pathological Gambling


Gambling involves placing a stake on an event that is at least partially determined by chance with the aim of winning something else of value. This includes betting on a sporting event, buying lottery tickets, scratchcards or even playing bingo. There are and have always been professional gamblers who make a living from gambling, both ethically and dishonestly. There is also a long history of legal prohibition of gambling, either for moral or religious reasons, to preserve public order or to prevent people wasting time and energy on unproductive activities.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a maladaptive pattern of gambling behaviors that causes serious psychological or financial problems. The risk of developing PG increases with age and is higher for men than for women. It usually starts during adolescence or young adulthood and persists over time. The vast majority of PG cases are not diagnosed and treated, perhaps because there is no single clinical definition or because the nature of PG makes it difficult to measure.

Whether a person is a gambler or not, they may experience harm from gambling and should seek help. If you’re dealing with someone whose gambling has become out of control, it’s important to set boundaries in managing their money. If they’re still unable to quit, there are inpatient and residential treatment and rehab programs that can provide round-the-clock support. It is also important to seek help for any underlying mood disorders that could be contributing to or making worse the problem gambling behaviours.