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The Trouble with Compulsive Gambling

Many theories have been postulated to explain the motivation for gambling.

People gamble for many reasons. However, the reasons range from boredom, to improving one's financial lot.

Freud, on the other hand, equates some gambling acts as a sublimation for copulation or masturbation. He interprets the acts of blowing breath of life on dice or cards as sexual in origin.

Similarly, Dostoevsky compares losing with a sexual orgasm. Regardless of the reason, it is apparent that some people gamble so much to fulfill the desire that they become addicted.

Unfortunately, casino gambling does not occur in a vacuum; it produces several social issues.

In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially recognized pathological gambling as a diagnosable mental disorder.

This was a landmark in the medical and psychological communities. It enabled practitioners to diagnose and treat patients using specific criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM II). This is regarded as the mental helper's bible.

There are several topologies for gamblers. Three of the, are problem, pathological, and probable pathological. The problem gambler is an individual who gets into serious problems because of his gambling.

The pathological gambler, also known as a 'compulsive gambling' in layman's language, has been diagnosed as having a compulsion to gamble.

They exhibit similar symptoms, such as withdrawal and tolerance similar to other addictions.

The third type of gambler, probable gambler, is an individual who has not been clinically diagnosed, but has the behavior and potential to be a pathological gambler.

Apparently,there is a sizable number of individuals in society who are addicted to casino gambling.

Another problem is they sometimes commit white collar crimes such as fraud, forgery, and embezzlement to support their gambling activities. In some cases, they do not consider themselves to be stealing, but merely borrowing funds they will replace after they win.

Unfortunately, these individuals do not always win and they cause great financial hardship to themselves and their families.

As a result of the increase in compulsive gaming, many casinos, Harrah's being the first, started preventive programs. All of the casinos in Atlantic City now place 'Bet with your had, not over it', on all of their advertisements.

Additionally, these casinos also sponsor a 1-800 Gambler hotline for persons who need help with their gambling habits.

The National Council on Compulsive Gambling believes this is a good start, but it is not enough.

The Council believes that a more effective way to control the disease should be through the following four strategies. First, education programs should be conducted in the schools an churches.

Second, the media should focus on the negative side of gambling and the prevalence of addiction. Third, casinos should make a contribution to a fund for gambling education and treatment programs.

Lastly, casino employees should be trained to recognize signs of compulsive gamblers.

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