psychology of gambling addiction

Gambling addiction psychology is fascinating, complicated and devastating.

We all know the horrendous affects gambling addiction can have on lives, including the addicts own life and their loved ones. But why do they do it? We’re going to take a look at some of the psychology behind gambling addiction.


Studies have shown that proximity to gambling establishments make the chances of you having a gambling problem much higher. This could be due to exposure. And with the popularity of online gambling, which is so ever-present and accessible, this is certainly worrying. People might choose to block ads, set time outs or impose deposit limits to limit their exposure. And if you have a problem, you should look at self-exclusion and software that blocks online gambling.


The reason why many people become addicted to gambling is because it can stimulate the brain’s reward system. This is very like how the brain reacts to drugs and alcohol too, and even more benign stimuli like sex and food. This feeling of being rewarded can drive people to gamble compulsively.

The illusion of control

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The house always wins and that’s a fact. So why do some gamblers spend so much time and money on betting, putting their futures at risk? Well, casinos both online and offline have cultivated an illusion of control. This is where the gambler feels like they use their skills to give them a positive outcome. When a compulsive gambler really believes that untruth, that’s spells trouble.

Sometimes near-misses can cause someone to gamble for longer and place larger bets. That feeling of having something slip through your fingers can be powerful. Their perceptions are distorted, thinking the more they play, the more likely they are to win big.

Gambling addicts get cravings and withdrawals

Just like someone addicted to a chemical drug, gambling addicts can experience very similar cravings and withdrawals. Gambling addiction psychology shows that this is a very real symptom in gambling addicts.

Brain chemistry

And it’s not just psychological symptoms. Addicts can have biological signs of addiction too. Dopamine plays a key role in addiction. Interestingly, when Parkinson’s patients take drugs that increase their dopamine transmission, their interest in gambling increases.

Another determinant seems to the be orbitofrontal cortex. That’s the part of your brain just above your eyes. When people suffer damage to that area of the brain, they often increase their risky activity. So experts think that if there’s a chemical imbalance in that part of the brain, to might explain why some people get addicted to gambling.

A problem approximately 1% of people have

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In Britain, approximately 70% of people gamble. However, pathological gambling affects 1% of the whole population. That is a staggering amount, when you think about it.

Getting help for problem gambling

If you think you have a problem with gambling, you need to get professional help. There are organizations all over the world who work tirelessly to give people the help and support they need to stop gambling for good. Here are just some of their details:

You can also read more about gambling addiction here: