Nearly everyone who gambles loses money in the long run. The question is: why do people gamble at all? A possible explanation could be that gambling serves as entertainment, a leisure time activity as well as a way of escaping reality for many people. Whether they win or lose, these people have an experience when they gamble. Unfortunately, there are also people who get caught up in gambling and who cannot control it.
We are responsible for licensing and monitoring gambling on a regulated gaming market. In order for us to make informed decisions when granting permits to arrange games for money, we need to have knowledge as to what affects players and their behaviour. Our responsibility in this area is linked to the legislation regulating the gaming area.
Gambling for money is about the possibility of winning. In other words: getting back more than you invested. Winning is a very positively charged concept in our society, seeing as it is associated with happiness and success. The possibility of winning or receiving something without making an effort is something which the reward system in the brain reacts positively to. The same is true for many species of animals and this is the outcome of genetic selection. Even the smallest of a reward gives pleasure and the hope of winning is a positive experience.
Cultural and commercial interests have, on the basis of people's expectations of winning, created even more temptations which may encourage people to gamble.
Persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behaviour leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as indicated by the individual exhibiting four (or more) of the following in a 12-month period:
- Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
- Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
- Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
- Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
- Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
- After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses).
- Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.