Initially, gambling was an activity undertaken by most communities. It later developed into some form of entertainment, but this led to risk taking activities. This intriguing human activity has been pursued fervently by researchers from various fields. This is because of the bad popularity it has collected over the years. The prevalence of gambling is always high, and the numbers have been doubling over the years. In fact, the world gambling review estimated that about eighty nine percent of people who engage in gambling are actually addicted to it. This paper attempts to explain the history, causes and effects of gambling.
Gambling; A Brief History
The history of Gambling can be delineated back to the 4th century in Europe and China (Thompson 20). There are some sources that uphold that gambling might have started prior to the fourth century. It is actually shocking that even religions allowed gambling during those days. For instance; the Jews and Catholics had specific days set aside for gambling activities. In those days, gambling did not seem to have any moral or psychological impediment because it was a normal entertainment and social activity. However, records show that the definition of gambling started taking a different meaning especially with the introduction of legal tender. Many governments called upon regulation of this activity owing to the negative effects it was having on most people (Petry 29).
The very first attempt in the control of gambling took place in the fourth century (Thompson 21). By this time, most religions had decided that the activity was not godly and, therefore, it was banished. Currently the activity has been banned in most countries in the world. In regions where it is practiced, a substantial amount of licensing is used to regulate this activity (Bose 179).
Types of Gambling Activities
The most common type of gambling occurs in casinos. The games vary from card games, table games and even dice games. These games are known by various names around the world. Electronic gaming is common in developed countries. Some of these games include; Pachinko, video poker and even slot machines where bets are made using coins.
Some gambling activity takes place outside the casino. For instance; game betting is quite common in horse or car racing. Backgammon, coin tossing and carnival games can occur outside the casino. The same case applies to games such as charity sweepstake cards. Some of the games are actually non profit based like arbitrage betting which can be incorporated into family activities.
Causes and Symptoms of Pathological Gambling
Gambling has always been a sociable practice when it was used for entertainment purposes. Usually one wagers a property of value for a game whose outcome is unpredictable (Sanju and Vijaya 134). for some people, gambling is a means of recreation. It is used as a form of unwinding, for socialisation and a stress relieving activity. Here, low risk activities like arbitrage betting are undertaken. According to health experts, this is healthy, and it should be encouraged.
With the invention of technology, gambling can be undertaken through Video Lottery Terminals. The invention of Video Lottery Terminals is attributed to compounding the problem of gambling. Apparently, the attractive lights of these machines attract an individual to these machines (Sanju and Vijaya 137). These machines reduce the taxing experience of historical gambling activities where a lot of mental activity was required. This in turn increases the chances of addiction. Furthermore, the prospects of getting large amounts of money at once are quite attractive for any individual.
The game eventually turned into what many people termed as a repressive evil with time (World Gambling Review 2009). This was especially evident when psychiatrists eventually realised that gambling can control a person’s mind. The final axe fell with the realisation that illegal groups like bandits and smugglers were using gambling as a way of acquiring quick tax free money for their activities. Consequently, a lot of people lost their lives to these illegal groups because of the inability to pay gambling debts.
Gambling becomes a pathological problem when it causes family problems, financial strain and when an individual feels the need to hide his or her activities from other people. It is reported that gambling leaves one in a state of extreme neediness to the extent that they feel hopeless. This pushes one to have suicide tendencies. For instance; the World Gambling Review reports that seventy eight percent of those people who gamble have suicidal tendencies.
Treatment of Pathological Gambling
Psychological intervention is one perchance the most widely used way of treating gambling problems. According to psychologists, this is simply a maladaptive behaviour, and with the right intervention it can be unlearned (Sanju and Vijaya 154). The success of psychological intervention has been quite high since its invention. In fact, it is reported that cognitive therapy was successful in five out of seven people who had a gambling problem (Petry 134). This success has been attributed to how cognitive therapy interferes with mental activity. Such people are able to rationalise myths, and this reduces their gambling activities over time. They are also able to regain control of their minds and thus are in a position to control the urge to gamble.
Pharmacological intervention is also necessary in some cases. Several drugs are used to counteract the feeling of gambling. Drugs used in this case include; serotonin uptake inhibitors like fluvoxamine, naltrexone and mood stabilising drugs. Serotonin is a hormone produced when one is in a certain state of excitation, and this pushes one to be appealed to the lustrous lights of video lottery machines. Mood stabilising drugs are used to counteract the impulsive feelings that push one to gamble (Sanju and Vijaya 170; Haugen and Susan 164).
It is noteworthy that overcoming gambling is a taxing activity. It is likened to treating any other psychological based compulsive disorder. It is, therefore, almost impossible to solve this problem with individual efforts alone (Haugen and Susan 207). With this in mind, fostering treatment has led to the creation of management groups like Gamblers Anonymous. However, for one to acquire help in this way, one needs to internalise and accept that they have a problem. This will push them to join such groups where prevention and treatment is discussed. Also, such groups are effective in helping one through recovery even after medical and psychological evaluation.
Gambling is not necessarily a bad habit. It all points down to the main reason behind gambling. If it is used for entertainment purposes, then it is acceptable. A problem arises when one is trapped between the maze of winning and losing. This is what contributes to gambling being an addiction. Gambling is also a practicable source of income for the government and it crucial to find ways of dealing with gambling addiction in order to maintain this revenue.
Bose, Morrow. Social And Cultural History Of Ancient India. New York: Concept Publishing Company, 1997, Print.
Haugen, David M., and Susan Musser. Gambling : Opposing Viewpoints. Detroit: Greenhaven Press. 2007. Print.
Petry, Nancy M. Pathological Gambling : Etiology, Comorbidity, and Treatment. Washington: American Press, 2005, Print.
Sanju, George., &Vijaya Murali. Pathological gambling: An overview of assessment and treatment. Advances in psychiatric treatment. 23(6), 134-176. Print.
Thompson, William Norman. Legalized Gambling: a Reference Handbook. New York: ABC-CLIO, 1997, Print.
World Gambling Review. “ Worldwide Gambling Pages – International Gambling Information.” World Gambling Review. N. p, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.