The gambling industry is among the largest in the world. The market for both online and traditional, brick ‘n’ mortar casinos is constantly growing, as people are looking for new ways of entertainment. Figures show that 25% of the population frequently gambles, with more than 50% gambling at least once a year. Such numbers are bound to be subject of categorisation. As such, researchers have distinguished six main types of gamblers, some of which exhibit harmful behaviours.
Six types of gamblers
Professionals gamblers consider gambling their life-sustaining activity. They mostly rely on calculations and thorough analysis of bets and games, finding out the best strategies. Instead of being impulsive, they possess traits like patience, intelligence and self-control. Professional gamblers are tough to come across, as they’re the rarest type of player.
See, casino games have been designed in such a way that the house always has an edge. Still, card counters in blackjack, for example, manage to cheat the odds and come out on top. If you regard poker tournaments as gambling, then professional poker players can be assigned to this group. You could also say the same for betting; for example, Formula 1 betting is known to land considerable profits if you manage with the research.
Antisocial gamblers are easily the most dysfunctional out of all the types. In contrast, the rest doesn’t resort to unethical, sometimes unlawful methods of obtaining money by gambling. Antisocial gamblers, sometimes referred to as personality gamblers, often cheat, deceive, manipulate, and conspire against people around them to make sure that they win.
The strategies of antisocial gamblers could be something simple like hiding a card, or more elaborate, like fixing a game.
Relief and escape gamblers
This type of gamblers is usually one step away from addiction. Instead of looking for healthy ways of unwinding their stress, depression or anxiety, they resort to gambling. Similarly to alcohol and drugs, gambling, in this case is used as a coping mechanism. This is called emotion regulation and is often exhibited by addicts. In fact, it’s one of the main mechanisms of addiction.
Such gamblers often lose more than win due to their state of mind. Making logical, thought-through decisions is difficult in such a condition. This leads to them getting even more stressed out over losses, which, in turn, often facilitates addiction.
Serious social gamblers
While this type of gamblers is in control, they treat gambling as one of their main entertainment sources. They dedicated a large portion of their lives to gambling, which can make them prone to problems further down the line. These gamblers can be compared to a cinephile, whose main hobby is watching movies, yet they still place other values at the top, namely family, work, and relationships.
Casual social gamblers
Contrary to serious social gamblers, casual social gamblers see gambling as only one of the ways to entertain themselves. Instead of making it the primary source of fun, they engage in other activities such as sports and hobbies. These players, while winning is a lot of excitement for them, are not as determined to win. They gamble solely for entertainment and are entirely in control of their habits. Such players don’t develop addiction very often, as they have multiple ways of coping with everyday troubles.
Compulsive gamblers are in the state of a full-blown addiction. Gambling takes control of their lives, leading to numerous problems such as debt, loss of family, bankruptcy, and destroyed relationships. Usually, this behaviour becomes a downward spiral of manipulation and efforts to win their money back by placing more bets.
Why can gambling be addictive?
Gambling, similarly to drugs, generates tremendous amounts of neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These chemicals make us feel in a certain way — in a rush or euphoric. Our reward system is triggered not only by wins but also by the bets themselves and even the setting.
The minds of addicted gamblers become rewired so that only gaming pleases them, and it’s the superior value in their lives. The control is lost completely at this point. As they spiral down, they resort to new methods of acquiring money for gambling, such as loans or selling their house equipment, leaving them in a tough spot. More often than not, they sacrifice their families for gambling.
While regular, non-addicted people can simply stop gambling when they’ve reached a certain limit they set for themselves, addicts exhibit the inability to walk away. They burn through the last dime they have in their pockets in the hope of making up their losses.
Addiction can often stem from traumatic events, though some people are more prone to it. Genetic predispositions can alter the brains in such a way that certain groups are far more likely to become addicted. Usually, it’s a defect in their reward system.
Mental illnesses or conditions such as depression can often lead to addiction as well. Gamblers often use casino as a way of coping with their lack of positive thinking and constant bad mood.
Similarly to alcohol and drugs, gamblers develop tolerance. As they play more and more, they get lower amounts of dopamine released. Our brains get conditioned to the constant flow of neurotransmitters, thus releasing less of them.
While gambling can indeed be a lot of fun, many people need to be careful when engaging in such activities. Make sure that you set your priorities straight before gambling, establish a limit, and don’t do it too often. As soon as you start noticing the signs of addiction in yourself or in your relatives, such as the inability to stop, manipulation, lies, unsuccessful attempts in quitting, and personal life issues, don’t hesitate and reach out for help.