Information & advice by Sporting Chance
There is no single, clear cut definition of what gambling is but it is widely agreed that:
Two or more people agree to take part in the activity (usually an operator and the person who wishes to gamble).
- Normally money (the ‘stake’) is paid by the loser to the winner.
- The outcome is uncertain.
- The result is determined (partly) by chance.
- Participation is an active experience but can be avoided by not taking part.
Approximately 68% of the population gambled in the past year. The most popular gambling activities were: the National lottery (57%), Scratch cards (20%), Horse racing (17%) and slot machines (14%) (2007 Gambling Commission Prevalence report)
The gambling industry turns over £42billion – which is £115million per day. The government receives £1.5billion in tax revenue. IT IS BIG BUSINESS!
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport recognises that this needs regulation and have passed laws to ensure that gambling should remain crime free, should allow players to not be exploited and should protect children and other vulnerable people.
The fact is that there is ‘problem gambling’. We see it sports people that we treat and it exists in the wider society. 2007 Gambling Prevalence report suggests that there are 284000 problem gamblers. The highest percentages of Problem gamblers participated in spread betting (14.7%), fixed odds betting terminals (11.2%) and betting exchanges (9.8%).
Gambling and the brain:
Dopamine is neurotransmitter in the brain that plays vital roles in a variety of different behaviours. The major behaviours dopamine affects are movement, cognition, pleasure, and motivation. In certain areas of the brain when dopamine is released it gives one the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction. These feelings of satisfaction become desired, and the person will grow a desire for the satisfaction. To satisfy that desire the person will repeat behaviours that cause the release of dopamine. For example food and sex release dopamine.
That is why people want food even though their body does not need it and why people sometimes need sex. These two behaviours scientifically make sense since the body needs food to survive, and humans need to have sex to allow the race to survive. However, other, less natural behaviours (i.e. drug taking and gambling) have the same effect on one’s dopamine levels, and at times can even be more powerful.
Because the outcome is based on chance, one does not know prior if he or she will win. Therefore, if the person wins, dopamine levels increase. One study concluded that pathological gamblers most often experienced traumatizing experiences when they were younger and that their dopamine levels were lower than average.
The process of becoming a pathological gambler is where one insists on gambling even though he or she knows that the odds are against them. This is the case in all casino games, where the games are structured for the house to win. Probability and reason no longer are the most important factors in decision making. The unconscious need for the release of dopamine becomes most important.
This mental process causes addiction in approximately 4% of participants.
The 3 stages of Problem gambling:
If you choose to gamble you do not automatically become a compulsive gambler the first time you start gambling, the change happens over time. For some, it happens faster than others, but typically there are three stages that you will travel through before you become a compulsive gambler.
Winning -The first stage is the winning stage, this is where you are just discovering gambling and how it feels to gamble and WIN!! The feelings produced by winning are great. You feel happy and everything seems right with the world. You are making money and feeling great at the same time, what could be better? This stage sometimes lasts a day or two, or sometimes it will last longer depending on your luck. During this stage, you might start feeling confident about gambling, and you may think that you have the system beat, and therefore may place larger and larger bets.
Losing – The second stage of gambling is when reality hits and you begin losing your bets. This is where you will feel the ‘high’ of gambling less and less, until you rarely experience it at all. Typically, you will start to gamble alone, and may begin hiding your gambling habits from friends and family. As you lose more and more money, you may begin borrowing or stealing money to pay for your habit.
Desperation – The third stage of gambling is the most serious. During the desperation stage, you increase the amount of time and money that you spend gambling until you are in serious trouble. During this stage, you will start to experience serious debt problems, your family life may begin to suffer leading to divorce or separation. You may lose your job and find yourself in a dangerous cycle without much hope to escape. It is in this phase that some compulsive gamblers will resort to desperate measures to fix their problems including illegal acts or even attempting suicide.
The progression through these stages of gambling will vary depending on the personality type of the individual and the type of gambling that they engage in. It has been found that people, who play instant gratification games such as the slot machines, video slots or video poker, including online gambling, will experience these three stages faster than other gamblers.
Gambling, the footballer’s body and performance:
It is difficult at first to recognise the parallels between using alcohol or other drugs and gambling. However those who develop gambling problems experience very similar effects on their physical well being. The problem gambler will suffer the negative consequences of a lack of quality sleep, loss of appetite, dehydration, poor diet and nutrition. How this then causes decreased concentration and affects physical strength, endurance and performance is common. Higher levels of stress and anxiety occur with increasing debts or pressure from those who seek to bribe players will again affect the body and performance.
Having learned about alcohol, drugs and gambling, please link to www.sportingchanceclinic.com and answer the questions on our page; do you have a problem?