While most people enjoy casino games and sports betting without any issues, gambling can quickly become an addiction and the individual might not even notice when this happens.
Gambling is considered an impulse-control disorder that is similar to drug or alcohol addiction in more ways than you would think. When it gets to a certain level it can damage not only mental but physical health too.
In this piece, we are discussing the health effects of gambling with Polish iGaming expert Klara Czerwinska. Klara knows the gambling industry inside and out and you can find out more about her when you click here.
Online vs offline
Online casinos offer the same exciting games as land-based casinos including poker, slots or in Polish automaty do gier online, blackjack, baccarat, craps etc. However, when there are no controlling steps taken by the online casino, it is easier to lose a large amount of money than in a land-based casino. When the money goes straight from your bank account it feels less real than when you spend banknotes from your wallet.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonest online casinos out there too so it is crucial to make sure that the casino is legit, and you can see more about how to do that here.
How is health affected?
Compulsive gambling can cause many symptoms both mental and physical, however, they are varied and can be different from one person to another. The most common symptoms are:
- Tension headaches
- Intestinal disorders including IBS
- Anxiety-related problems
- Anti-social personality disorder
- Peptic ulcer
Unlike with alcohol, cigarette, or drug addiction, there is no specific disease that is 100% caused by gambling behavior but most of the above-mentioned symptoms are caused by stress-induced by losing money.
In extreme cases, feelings of despondency and helplessness can even lead to suicide attempts. This may happen when the problem gambler loses his job, fails at his studies, loses a partner or the entire family, or goes into bankruptcy as consequences of gambling.
Who is at risk?
Gambling can affect anyone – women or men, young adults or elderly people, the rich and the poor alike. It often starts as a harmless pastime and over time it can become an addiction and an obsession. Studies found that there are some triggers that may contribute to compulsive gambling behavior, and these are:
- Traumas in life
- Losing a family member or even a pet
- Other addictions such as alcohol or drugs
- Job-related stress
- Environmental factors – e.g., friends that encourage gambling
Playing which games can lead to gambling addiction?
There is no easy answer to this one. People can be addicted to sports betting, slots, card games, and even scratch cards! However, in general, the faster the game and the quick decisions it requires to be made, the more likely it is to get addictive. Men are more likely to become addicts than women and their game choice usually differs from women’s choices. Men are more competitive and often start chasing losses on poker or blackjack. Women are most likely to be addicted to slot games and bingo.
When we talk about treatment for compulsive gambling behavior, we are talking about mental treatments. As depression and gambling go hand in hand, the psychological issues need to be addressed first. Treatment can be therapy or medication advised by a healthcare professional or gambling addicts can decide to attend support groups. Many countries have support hotlines as well.
It is also the casino’s responsibility to address problem gambling behavior and most decent casinos provide self-exclusion tools on their website. Most casinos offer a daily, weekly, or monthly deposit limit players can set for themselves, and the system will not allow them to deposit more once they reach the limit.
Gambling can quickly turn into an addiction with the potential of affecting our physical and mental health negatively. Certain factors can raise the likelihood of becoming an addict and some games are more addictive than others. If you have a gambling addiction you should seek help either from a medical professional or a support group.