Compulsive Gambling

(Gambling Addiction; Pathological Gambling)


Compulsive gambling is an impulse control disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to gamble. In compulsive gambling, your life becomes dominated by gambling.


It is not clear what causes compulsive gambling. There is some evidence that there may be a genetic component.Research has also shown that people who have a gambling addiction experience changes in their brain. These brain changes are like those that occur in people who are addicted to drugs.
Frontal Lobe
Frontal lobe
Impulse control is believed to exist in this part of the brain.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Gambling addiction is more common in males. Factors that may increase the risk of compulsive gambling include:
  • Family history of gambling problems
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Drug abuse or gambling at a young age
  • Certain traits, such as having a competitive character, being restless, and getting bored easily


Symptoms of compulsive gambling may include:
  • Gambling longer than you intended to
  • Taking time from work or family life to gamble
  • Feeling guilty after gambling
  • Lying to hide gambling
  • Not being able to sleep due to thoughts about gambling
  • Having financial problems due to gambling, such as:
    • Spending all of your money on gambling
    • Needing to borrow money for gambling
    • Trying to earn money through gambling to pay your bills
    • Being involved in illegal activities to get money for gambling
  • Trying to quit gambling but not being able to
  • Feeling depressed or suicidal due to gambling

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