Problem Gambling and its Impact

We could talk about how online gambling, not to mention other forms of gambling, is a simple form of entertainment and recreation all we want. However, there is no escaping the fact that for many people, it is not a healthy pursuit at all. Problem gamblers could run a wide spectrum, because there are various degrees of the "problem" or the addiction. But there is no question that there is nothing simple or healthy about the way they go about their play.

According to the American Psychological Association, online gambling is something that can be as addicting as alcohol or drugs. We know that there are higher suicide rates among problem gamblers than non-gamblers, but that wouldn't be anything surprising, would it? Neither would the fact that there are higher divorce rates for problem gamblers. And up to 5.5 million Americans may have a gambling problem. But who says? There may be something inherently faulty with some of the data, because in large part, it is mined from interviews and information that come from the so-called "problem gamblers" themselves. If we are to believe that gambling addicts are liars like many addicts are, perhaps some of the data scientists and psychologists are basing the findings on is tainted to an extent. In other words, while no one could or should argue that there are people with a severe gambling problem, there may be some difficulty in nailing down who is actually an "addict" and who isn't, because exactitude is not really possible.

Certainly if the evidence that has been gathered by anti-gambling is true, there is some cause for alarm in the socio-economic sense. For instance, one study concluded that those people who earn less than $10,000 a year tend to spend three times as much on gambling-related activities, such as the lottery, as those who earn more than $50,000. And African-Americans were found to spend 57% more on lottery tickets than whites. Do they have a problem? Possibly, but how much of a problem, and is there a logical explanation, such as more of a hope that one might make a "score" than those who already have a steady income.

Senior citizens are often cited as well. A survey that was done by Penn State University came to the conclusion that 11% of those 65 years of age and older could be classified as problem gamblers. While it is a concern if a senior is spending a disproportionate amount of his or her Social Security check on gambling, there is also the question of what else they are spending on. Maybe pulling a slot machine is the only recreational activity they engage in. If they take part in that and still pay their bills, is it a problem?