What Is the Real Cause of Gambling Addiction?

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According to a UK addiction rehabilitation organisation, UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT), there’s an indication that the actual cause of gambling addiction might not lie in gambling itself.

When analysing problematic gambling, the most obvious place to start would be addictive manifestations of repetitive acts that turn into habits.  From the latest case studies, it is clear that an individual who suffers from a gambling problem will try pretty much anything before they seek professional help.   

Of course, during these attempts, it’s usually the ones closest to the problem gambler that tend to suffer the most. Family members often have to become watchdogs, forced to regularly control the person’s whereabouts, keep money away from them, as well as curtail their TV, internet and gaming access, all of which can often act as triggers.  

Regretfully, measures such as blocking of credit cards only address the problem and the level of the symptom, creating an illusion of control but not solving the core issue. 

Similar to drug abuse, taking the addictive element away from problem gamblers will not stop the addiction.  And, often, these constraints are viewed as obstacles that need to be overcome by whatever means possible.

So, what is the Real Problem Here?

Problem gambling, in its root cause, is a misunderstanding of how the mind processes things.  It becomes a release vent for the reality that we create in our minds, which often can be unfulfilling.  Those who have too many unhappy thoughts turn to vents like gambling, as a quick fix.

When you cut your finger, you have a visible wound that will, over time, heal.  In the same way, the mind also heals from damaging thoughts, although most people don’t grasp this concept.  Instead of viewing negative thinking as a passing situation, some individuals clench onto it and dissect it, resulting in a low state of mind and overall negative emotions. 

Naturally, if such thoughts are left to accumulate with no release vent, they result in an imbalance, making people turn to things like gambling as a steam outlet.  Thus, problem gambling becomes a coping mechanism and not the real cause of an issue.

How to Resolve Problematic Gambling?

Although traditional therapy may help in such situations, its beneficial effects tend to be short-lived.  Programmes, such as those that are offered by Gamblers Anonymous, although systematic, do not prevent the addiction from manifesting in other areas of life. 

As a result, many gamblers return to gambling following a successful period of abstinence, since only the ultimate symptom of the issue was addressed.  To understand the real problem, we have to delve deeper into the core psyche of us as human beings.  The treatment needs to confront and seek answers to personal questions that are often uncomfortable.  These include why a person gambles, what caused the gambling to spiral out of control and what generated the cycle of dependence.

Ultimately, treatment should indicate to the problem gambler a different way to live their lives, free of overthinking, anxiety and stress, as well as the show them the ability to live in each moment.  Lasting change comes from insights.  When a gambling addict acknowledges the suffering that they’re inflicting on themselves and those nearest and dearest to them, things usually start to change for the better.

The need to gamble destructively and uncontrollably diminishes when an individual no longer generates their own stress, anxiety and painful feelings, but is more in sync with the world around them and the enjoyments and opportunities that this offers.       

Can Casino Operators Help Manage Problem Gambling?

A robust monitoring system that identifies tell-tale signs of problem gambling can help casinos to monitor if any of their players are going down the gambling addiction rabbit hole.

Some of these approaches include:

  • Deploying a problem gambling team that can assist players who proactively seek help
  • Redirecting a fraction of profits towards help/rehabilitation organisations
  • Using data gathering to assess user experiences

Ultimately, no one can force anyone to seek help.  It can be expected that a fair share of problem gamblers will reject assistance, although, if an opportunity did arise, many more would grab it.  We must always be mindful that problem gambling is not a sign of someone’s moral decay or lack of conviction, but our mind’s misinterpretation of the innocent use of thought principles.

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