Gambling Addiction and Its Behavioral Effects

Gambling addiction is a serious mental health disorder, which can be identified in two ways: a person either a) continuously bet on things using money or objects that hold value even though negative consequences arise as a result, or, b) they cannot stop gambling even if they desired to. People suffering from gambling addiction often display a strong urge to bet on a wide-range of gambling mediums-from sports games to poker, to choosing lottery numbers and throwing dice. And although friends and family members of compulsive gamblers don’t see the symptoms physically, like they often do with alcoholics or drug abusers, the consequences gambling addiction has serious implications on their lives as well as the lives of their friends and families. Not realizing its severity or taking it too lightly can be devastating for the addicted gambler in the long run. Gamblers can reach a point of literally losing everything, from cars, to homes, to businesses, and even respect from those they care about.

It’s well-known that Florida is notorious for providing “the hotspot” for gamblers all over the world, as well as its residents. But how many gamblers actually endure financial problems? A recent survey by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling shed light on card playing, reporting that 70% of these people had trouble paying their bills. But here’s the worst part, which is known to be a side-effect of excessive gambling–1 in 3 of these card players admitted to having participated in illicit activities in order to finance their gambling. Playing cards isn’t as harmless as we thought; criminal activity is still a cause for concern.

Gambling addicts are not always obvious about their situation; sometimes they don’t even realize it themselves. They don’t dwell on what has been lost as a result of their destructive activities and behaviors. Instead, compulsive gamblers only focus on the gains, or the supposed investment aspect of the games they play. And unlike drug or alcohol addiction, a person addicted to gambling will not display symptoms such as heavy fatigue, sickness, loss of energy or dizziness; instead, other factors are apparent, such as falling into deep financial trouble, losing quality time with the ones they love, and heightening the chances of entering into drug or alcohol addiction.

It’s difficult to establish who has a gambling problem and who doesn’t. Where is the threshold between social gamblers, and abusive gamblers? Are there any red flags? The answer is yes. Pathological gamblers often display one or more of the following signs: negligent of family get-togethers, acts on criminal behavior in order to acquire more stuff to bet on, would rather gamble then hang out with friends, talk excessively about gambling and winning money, use drugs or alcohol to distract them from wanting to gamble more, become irritated when not gambling, neglect vital responsibilities for gambling time, and lying to family and friends about going out gambling. A combination of these signs should be a red flag when identifying a compulsive gambler. But remember, none of these signs mention the amount of times a person gambles in a period of time. It’s not about “quantity.” A person can gamble every day and it may not affect his life. Also, gambling addiction isn’t OK if you’re wealthy; rich gamblers can still have issues like neglecting their loved ones and other vital responsibilities.

Florida is well-known for its casinos, entertainment arenas and cruise ship gambling. But environmental factors such as these may cause people to be more susceptible to the development of gambling addiction. Gambling addiction isn’t a problem that stands alone-it may lead to criminal behavior, psychological distress and depression, and fuel other more dangerous addictions. As stated earlier, a person may fall into drug or alcohol addiction in order to supplement or replace their gambling behavior. The combination of multiple addictions can be devastating and more difficult to treat; it would be like tangling a web of loose strings and trying to unravel them all at once.

Addiction specialists and counselors use a variety of methods in treating gambling addiction effectively, including: helping the addict understand what drives him or her to gamble, replacing their betting habits with more productive activities, understanding how it affects the people they care about, and finally, strengthening one’s will to live a more productive lifestyle. If you notice warning signs that you or your loved one is suffering from gambling addiction, it is crucial to intervene and find treatment before it is too late. Doctors treat gambling addiction as a serious brain disease, and people suffering from it are also prone to drug addiction. The importance of acquiring immediate treatment can be the difference between losing everything, and saving someone’s life.

Gambling History: How Far Back Do Gambling Games Go? Possibly With the Egyptian Pharaohs

At what period in history did people start to gamble? The exact period is unknown but believe it or not, pairs of dice have been found in Egyptian tombs over 4,000 years old! Also, gambling games were played in ancient China, where Poker is thought to have originated. In 1492 during the Columbus landing, Native Americans were sports betting on the outcome of a game resembling LaCross. So when did it all start in America? Read on.

Early America

Gambling in America started with the first English settlers in the 1600′s. Their traditions included card games that were part of the aristocratic lifestyle. However, when Puritans colonized in Massachusetts Bay they had the freedom to create their own culture which included hostility towards gambling. They outlawed the possession of dice, cards, and gambling table games in their communities. Nevertheless, gambling prevailed in other localities. Many English colonists considered gambling to be a suitable form of entertainment.

The Revolution

The colony of Virginia was the first to realize that lotteries could raise capital for local governments. Eventually all 13 colonies were raising lottery revenue. Proceeds helped build Universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Lotteries also funded churches and libraries. Founding Fathers George Washington, Ben Franklin, and John Hancock were promoters of specific lotteries for public works projects. When the Revolutionary War started, the Continental Congress voted for a $10 million lottery to finance the war.

Westward Ho

During the early 1800′s the taverns and road houses allowed dice and card games, creating the first version of casinos. As America’s population began to increase, casinos became more lavish. The Mississippi River was a major trade route where merchants and entrepreneurs brought their cash. Gambling on riverboats became a favorite pastime and New Orleans became the gambling capitol of America. In 1849 gambling followed the pioneers to California during the gold rush. Gambling establishments began to flourish there and west of the Mississippi, including Nevada. In the late 1800′s Roulette was adopted from France and the Slot Machine was invented.

Much of the public viewed gambling as a social ill because it was linked to alcoholism and prostitution. Reformers convinced jurisdictions to shut down the Dens of Iniquity. Most states discontinued lotteries as well. Riverboat gambling dried up with the advent of the railroad. By the end of the century only Nevada allowed gambling.

20th Century

In 1910 Nevada finally shut the door on gambling, which left horse race wagering the only legal entity in America. In 1912 Arizona and New Mexico were granted statehood under the condition that gambling remain outlawed. During the 1920′s prohibition era, the public’s thirst for gambling matched that of alcohol. Casinos went underground along with the speakeasys. In 1931 Nevada legalized gambling again and remained the only state to do so until the latter half of the century. Gambling flourished underground as organized crime made heavy investments in Nevada, and prospered by controlling off track betting and the numbers lottery.

During the 1950′s the U.S. Senate investigated organized crime’s link to illegal gambling. Eventually the mob departed Las Vegas. States put bookies out of business by legalizing off track betting and numbers games. Atlantic City approved gambling in 1976, the Indian Gaming Act was approved by congress in the late 1980′s. Dockside riverboat gambling made a comeback, racetracks installed slot machines while Las Vegas reinvented itself by building mega resorts during the 1990′s.

Century 21

The American Gaming Association reported that there are 832,988 slot machines spread out over 1,151 casinos and racetracks across 44 states with more on the way. It appears that the American culture’s thirst for gambling matches that of the Egyptian Pharaohs! America has embraced gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment.

Las Vegas Gambling Tips!

GAMBLING TIP#1: Know the game before you play!

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is walking into a casino and playing a game that they have no clue about. It is the easiest way to ‘lose’ your money. Quite a few casinos offer some table game lessons. You can learn some tips on how to play a great hand at blackjack, or what is best to bet on in roulette. When you understand the game and want to play, try to find a table that doesn’t have many people. If you get lost at some point, you can possibly ask the dealer for some direction. The dealers are not against you and would rather you understand the game and enjoy your experience. It is usually appreciated and common to give a tip if the dealer assists you in any way.

GAMBLING TIP#2: Managing your Money

Good money management is so important and will end up being your saviour in the casino. The best thing to do is stick to the rules you walked in with. Your rules! The best way to devise a money management plan is to find out how much money you can afford to lose during your vacation and then divide it by the number of days you are staying in Las Vegas. Take that number and divide the amount of gambling sessions you will have on your vacation and then you will know how much you have to play with on each casino visit, without losing your house! Make sure you take this money (and only this money!) with you and leave the credit cards at home. This way you will only be risking your play money and can walk away knowing you are still in a financially stable position. Stick to your own game plan!

GAMBLING TIP #3: What is a Player’s Card?

A player’s card resembles a credit card because it stores and tracks information about the person that it is assigned to. The card tracks certain information, such as what games you have played and how long, as well as what your average bet has been during those games. You will be required to submit your personal information such as address and phone number when registering for a player’s card. This is so the casino can contact you with comps, gifts and special offers which often include invitations to slot tournaments, room discounts and upgrades.

Take advantage of these comps as they are ‘FREE’ and reduce your costs for shows, drinks and meals while you are at the casino. The average amount you have wagered and the time you have spent on the tables will reflect on the comps the casino gives you. When you arrive, go to the registration desk and ask about the casino comp program. Usually, the time limit for using any comps is 6 months, so it is best to use them while you are in this energized neon city. The most important thing to remember when using the player’s card is to keep to your regular playing pattern. If you attempt to stay longer or spend more at a table just to gain comps, you might end up spending more than the comp itself.

GAMBLING TIP#4: Ask for a Fun Book

When you register for a player’s card, most casinos will give you a fun book with coupons for discounts in their casino lounges, restaurants, bars and shops. Some of these fun books also contain match play coupons which may be used to increase your bet at some of the table games, use them!

GAMBLING TIP#5: Know when to cash in!

If you find yourself sitting at a $5 blackjack table and every hand you get seems to be a winner, the logical thing to do is to increase your bet. If your minimum bet is $5, you then can increase your bet by the same amount, win the hand and maybe increase a bit more, but remain playing at a level that you are comfortable with. It’s best not to jump the gun and bet 5 times the minimum bet if you feel like you are on a roll. If you are a risk taker and lose the hand, then drop your bet back down to your original minimum bet and repeat the process slower this time. You will find that your gambling session lasts longer and you will be able to enjoy the tables for a longer period of time. If the dealer is hot and wins over four hands in a row, it is time to move to another table. Luck is something that comes and goes, even for dealers, but there is no point in waiting around for the dealer to lose their luck. Play smart!

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