A game dating back centuries, the act and concept of gambling has always held a certain allure and had a compelling nature for many. A recreational activity at the least, and a dangerous game of odds at the most, there are many forms that exist, each with its own set of rules and varying levels of risk.
Gambling consists of betting or wagering money, or something else of a material value, on a set of circumstantial odds of which the outcome is unclear. Possessions placed as the bet that pose a risk of being lost are referred to as stakes, or collateral. Most, if not all, of the allure behind gambling comes from the uncertain promise of obtaining additional money or goods, should the odds be rendered in a player’s favor. This potential increase frequently drives the game’s participants to wager equal or even greater amounts of collateral than what stands to be won. This is where the element of risk is truly called into play, as well as the saying “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.”
The act of gambling in ways that have been permitted by law is also referred to as gaming. There exist dozens of gaming committees, or gambling control boards, that are federally commissioned organizations tasked with regulating the gambling industry by enforcing all rules and regulations associated with gaming law. Due to vast complexity and national variations, there exist multiple stipulations and prohibitions in gaming that coincide with a collection of federal, constitutional, state, criminal, and several other aspects of law. The gross gaming revenue of the commercial gaming industry for the year of 2012 was $37.34 billion.
In gambling, there must exist three separate elements. First, the element of consideration; which allows the participants of the gamble an opportunity to weigh the pros, cons, odds, and potential dangers associated with the game. Second, there must be an involvement of chance; meaning that the better stands both a risk of losing and a risk of winning, and the degree to which these outcomes are proportionate are, for the most part, unknown. Third, there must be a prize. If nothing stands to be won, then there is no gamble, only stagnation or loss. Should the odds be rendered in a player’s favor, the player is immediately tempted with the fleeting promise of another win. Much like a drug, the player is seized with a euphoric sensation that must now be chased for the greater rewards that may lie on the other side. Unfortunately, this is where many fall into addiction, in the pursuit of that euphoric bliss that is beating the odds.
Gambling addiction, also known as problem gambling or ludomania, is associated with an uncontrollable urge or compulsion to continuously gamble in spite of apparent dangers or even against a desire to stop. There are several different factors contributed to ludomania, such as impulse control disorder or the belief known as gambler’s fallacy, in which the victim believes that a win is the inevitable result following a series of losses. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, pathological gamblers are more likely to possess lower levels of norepinephrine, and therefore gamble excessively to compensate for the lack of the chemical, which is normally secreted during instances where one experiences stress, arousal, or thrill.
Another theory presented by the American Psychiatric Association, regards pathological gambling as a unique instance of a psychological disorder only when it occurs separately of other impulses or moods. This isolative diagnosis is only made upon the observance of a specific series of traits in an individual. Regardless of the factors leading up to, or even defining the diagnosis, the dangers of gambling are very real when not responsibly approached, and treated as a dependency, rather than a simple game of odds.
By Darrell Purcell