Gambling or gambling addiction and the different types of players

Gambling or gambling addiction and the different types of players


  • 1 Gambling addiction or gambling
  • 2 Diagnosis of Ludopathy
  • 3 Types of players
  • 4 Phases in game development

Gambling addiction or gambling

Ludopathy is an impulse control disorder in which the affected person feels the uncontrollable need to bet continuously in spite of the harmful negative consequences that his behavior or his desire to stop may bring.

in this way, the game can become a addictive behavior, as with the tobacco, with the alcohol or with any other type of drugs. Pathological players get out of control and are unable to stop playing, even when they want to. The reason is that they have a deep-rooted habit that they feel unable to part with.

Another common aspect between pathological gambling and addictions is that it is the people who are around the addict (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) who are the first to realize that there is a real problem. Meanwhile the pathological player will continue to deny that something goes wrong.

Diagnosis of Ludopathy

To diagnose a person as pathological player It must be taken into account that he carries out a detrimental game behavior characterized by at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent worry about playing or getting money to play,
  • More money is often played or for longer than I had planned,
  • There is a need to increase the magnitude or frequency of bets to achieve the desired excitation,
  • Restlessness or irritability when you can't play,
  • Repeated loss of money in the game and return the next day to try to recover
  • Repeated efforts to reduce or stop the game
  • Often, the game takes place when the person is expected to be fulfilling their social or professional obligations,
  • Sacrifice of some important social, professional or recreational activity to play,
  • Maintenance of the game despite the inability to pay debts and despite the social and professional problems caused by the game.

Types of players

It seems useful to distinguish different types of players according to the behaviors they carry out. According to this criterion, the following are proposed:

Social player

He is the one who plays occasionally or regularly, he does it for entertainment, satisfaction or within the framework of a social interaction, for leisure or pleasure, but you have total control over that behavior and can abandon it or stop issuing it whenever you want. This ability seems to be a combination of three factors (Custer, 1984): 1) the result of the bets does not influence personal self-esteem; 2) other aspects of life are more important and reinforcing, and 3) a great gain is rarely experienced (gains and losses are generally modest). Pathological players have just the opposite characteristics.

Professional player

The characteristic in these cases is that the game is a way of life, that is, a profession. They participate in games where skill is important (for example, on cards, in billiards, etc.) or cheat to win. They are people who bet after performing a weighted calculation and not carried by passion.

Problematic player

Carry out frequent or daily game behavior, with a usual expenditure of money that on occasion, excessive, causes problems, but does not reach the severity of the pathological player. He has less control over his impulses than the social player, and the increase in the regularity of the game requires him to spend with greater intensity and a greater time of dedication, although he tends to attend regularly to his family and work, leading a normal life. They are considered people at high risk of becoming a pathological player.

Pathological player

It is characterized by a emotional dependence on the game, a loss of control over it and an interference with the normal functioning of everyday life. The result is an uncontrolled game that responds to the following guidelines:

a) a frequency of game behavior and / or investment in extraordinarily high time and money;

b) the bet of an amount of money superior to the planned one;

c) recurring thoughts and compulsive desire to play, especially when they have lost;

d) the subjective need to play to recover lost money, and

e) repeated failure in the attempt to resist the urge to play. From a cognitive perspective, irrational optimism and superstitious thinking are cognitive distortions present in ludopaths.

Phases in game development

According to Custer (1984), the development of the pathological game follows a uniform pattern. The game usually begins in adolescence, although it can be done at any age, from the first bets to the total loss of control an average of five years (with limits between one and twenty years). The player then goes through three phases:

Gain phase

At the beginning, they are given frequent episodes of obtaining prizes, which lead the player to greater involvement in the game and to believe that he is an exceptional player. Such gains produce great excitement and expectations that you can still earn more money. In this phase it can be maintained from several months to several years.

Loss phase

Given the optimism that characterizes the player in the previous phase of winning, with the aim of getting bigger prizes every time he risks more, but he starts losing money, losing so much more the more you bet. Once the person has become a regular player, the most important factor that will enable him to become a pathological player is his accessibility to the loan. The "hunting" phenomenon consisting in the player playing more and more to try to recover from his debts and losing more and more and these are greater. Now he no longer plays to win but to recover the lost. Loans, salary spent at stake, small robberies or scams, deteriorated family and labor relations are some of the consequences that follow, and that will further aggravate the problem by not getting money and losing what you have already achieved in extremis. This is when the player is forced to discover or confess his problem to family, friends, etc., and decides, and even promises to stop playing. This lasts a short time and soon, once he has obtained money, he returns to play again.

Despair phase

In this phase the game reaches great intensity in the player, living this one just to play He totally neglects family, friends and work. This requires increasing risks, being involved in greater financial and legal problems. At this point, the vast majority of pathological players have already lost their job. They are nervous and irritable, have sleep problems, eat little and find their life unpleasant. They feel psychologically and physiologically exhausted; In short, desperate. All this produces in the player a state of panic caused by his enormous debts, the desire to return the money quickly, the alienation of his family, when he does not break up or divorce, and friends, the development of a negative reputation, problems of depression or ideas of suicide and a nostalgic desire to recover those first days of gain in the first phase. At this point he perceives few alternatives: suicide, jail, escape or seek help.

Recently, Lesieur and Rosenthal (1991) have added a fourth: phase of hopelessness or abandonment. In this one the players assume that they can never stop playing. Even knowing they won't win, they keep playing; need to play for play, play until exhausted. The prognosis is currently very negative, because its compulsive gambling behavior joins the conviction that it is useless to do anything to try to solve it.