Human beings are the most sophisticated animals on earth, capable of raising entire civilizations through their mastery of tools and their uncanny ability to manipulate their environment. This concept of control is enforced from early childhood as stable and predictable lifestyles are depicted as good and idealistic. Although events happen throughout peoples lives which are out of their control, people generally like to believe that they are in command of their lives, and that every outcome is a direct result of their actions. This illusion of control is precisely what the gambling industry exploits, on an absolutely enormous scale. Gambling is becoming increasingly popular in the media with televised poker, internet gambling and movies like the recent James Bond movie "Casino Royale". Everybody from teenagers to the elderly can indulge in activities like poker, slot machines, bingo and lottery tickets to satisfy their needs for adventure and risk taking. Despite its popularity in modern society, it is generally acknowledged as a negative pastime due to its addictive demeanor and ability to ruin people's lives.
[...] Therefore compulsive gambling is a result of an intense psychological and physiological dependency to winning, which can be compared to other chemical addictions. When people are responsible, gambling can be an enjoyable and social pastime which can even turn a profit. It is when people lose control and develop the social, economic and psychological problems associated with gambling that it turns it into a deviant and negative pastime. The gambling industry is a huge source of government revenue as Canadians lost a total of 11.3 billion in 2002 alone (Wynne, 2004). [...]
[...] Moreover it should be mentioned that low stakes gambling in a social environment can be entertaining to people of all ages, as long as people play responsibly. However this is not always the case as some people may take it too far and suffer social and economic repercussions. Although gambling can be fun in moderation, this is not always the case as people can become severely addicted and begin to suffer socially and economically. This type of gambling is known as compulsive or pathological gambling and affects approximately the Canadian gambling population (Wynne, 2004). [...]
[...] In an article by Robert Ladouceur entitled “Gambling: The Hidden Addiction” a clear definition of what constitutes gambling is provided. Essentially an activity must fulfill three simple criteria in order to be considered gambling. The first criterion is that the player must wager money or an object of monetary value on the activity in question (Ladouceur, 2004). However, one can also argue that wagering a proposed action or favor to the winner can fulfill this criteria, even though it may not carry a direct monetary value. [...]
[...] Therefore compulsive gamblers suffer from a strong psychological dependency on winning, as they have let the game become a part of who they are. Although the psychological aspects of compulsive gambling have been discussed, compulsive gambling has been found to cause physiological side effects comparable to those of alcohol and chemical addictions. Since gambling does not involve any direct ingesting of chemicals into the body the effects reported by pathological gamblers is surprising. These gamblers report feelings of stimulation, tranquilization, and pain relief when engaging in their addiction (Peck, 1986). [...]
[...] This cycle of destructive gambling usually begins after the gambler experiences a substantial win. However, some compulsive gamblers have reported that after suffering a large loss they became compelled to regain their lost fortunes. This experience pushes the gambler into the “winning phase” where the gambler focuses on improving his/her skills and plays intelligently to maximize their profits (Peck, 1986). This phase can continue for months and even years, before the gambler enters the next and more destructive phase. This transition occurs when the gambler experiences a very large win which causes them to shift their game entirely. [...]
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