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Revision of Problem Gambling Case Study

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Updated: Aug 7th, 2019


Gambling involves three things the stakes, the prizes and the result. The stakes include things of value that are placed by the parties involved. The prize is the valuable thing that participants opt to win after betting. The result is the outcome of the event that determines who wins and who loses (Fabiansson, 2010).

Any activity involving the three aspects is gambling. Some examples of gambling events betting such as horse races or sporting events; playing casino games for money; buying lottery tickets; participation in prize-draws and newspaper competitions (Collins, 2003, p. 15).

How gambling has evolved

Over the past century and a half, gambling has evolved from being a furtive back-street activity to a multimillion-pound gambling industry (Parsons & Webster, 2000). Governments of many nations are using legalized gambling as a source of revenue, and the citizens have accepted it as a source of entertainment (Stitt, 2001).

Unlike in the olden days where a gambling event was organized once in a while, and people had to wait for the next events, today, the activity has been on for 24 hours with instant results and people do not have to wait for too long (Bourie & Curtis, 2006). Gambling is prominent in today’s society. It entertains, but can also have a disastrous effect on a person’s life (Thompson, 2001, p. 437).

Relevance of the topic

According to the BBC (2011, para 1), “the amount of betting has increased to levels last seen in the late 1990s”. Nowadays, there are many problem gamblers, and the British society is “in danger of being de-sensitised to the problems that gambling can bring” (BBC, 2011, para 16).

Experts at the National Centre drew a research by the British Gambling Prevalence Survey in 2007 for Social Research (NCSR). It was found that there was an increment in the number of people gambling within the UK.

The number of people betting for the last report increased from 63% to 73% between 2006 and 2007 respectively. In their comments to the survey authors, the majority claimed that they were gambling for fun. Others said that they were doing it to try out their chances of winning big money (Spapens, Littler & Fijnaut, 2008, p. 37).

It was noted that people in the UK were gambling in different ways. However, few of them engaged in online gaming. The majority, almost 60% of adults within the UK participated in the National lottery. Nevertheless, it was noted that football gambling reduced considerably. It reduced from 9 to 4 percent in the first decade of the second millennium (Fabiansson, 2010).

The reasoning behind the researchers’ decision to focus on the social and financial factors of gambling within the UK is because of the significant increase in gambling-related problems within Britain. In order to know whether gamblers had a problem, the statisticians used two different and complex measures to measure them. They surveyed for several behaviours of gamblers wanting to recover their stakes back (chasing losses). In many cases, the gamblers found themselves being exploited (Berleur, 2010, p. 19).

The casinos fall into the leisure activities and most casino venues are business oriented. The venues tend to provide restaurant services, great music, and classy bars. In contrast to being an entertaining game for many people, gambling has negative impacts to people especially on their finances. Some individuals suffer from a gambling addiction, which can ruin their financial and personal lives (Wardle, 2007, p. 17).

Negative impacts on today’s society (both psychological and financial)

Gambling is conducted in various places such as casinos, Internet and electronic machines among many other places. Since the time of its innovation, gambling has never had chances of being easily accessed and ever available (Rule & Sibanyoni, 2000, p. 21).

As has been noted, gambling can lead to a serious addiction problem. It can lead to financial instability of an individual. Once the problem gambling strikes into a person’s life, it takes control over his or her life. It affects their home life, work environment, performance and their parenthood (in this case, being good parents). People affected with problem gambling find themselves under pressure that may force them into sourcing money through illegal means (Volberg, 2001, p. 121).

Aims of the dissertation

The aim of the dissertation is to examine the premise of this theory on the youth generation using Leeds and its gambling market (casinos) as its focus.


  1. To describe and analyse the negative effects gambling has on individuals in Leeds.
  2. To evaluate the importance of problem gambling and its different forms.
  3. To analyse its impact on a sufferer’s social and personal life.

To establish the relationship between a gambler and his preferred casino, to determine what motivates them to go, what drives them to stay and gamble continuously?

Literature review

Notably, gambling may be described as “a conscious, deliberate effort to stake valuables, usually but not always currency, on how some event happens to turn out” (Jazaeri and Bin-Habil, 2012, para 4). Many people view gambling as a way of risking money in order to make money.

However, people who have won the valuable stakes do not stop playing, and those who have lost do not stop gambling. The youths in the society are also victims of gambling as they engage in gambling activities more than any other addictive activity such as smoking or alcohol drinking. This is a cause for concern keeping in mind that the youths are the future of the society (Allen, 2011and Wildman, 1997).

According to the research done by Derevensky in 2012, it was noted that there are various reasons as to why the youths engage themselves in gambling. The majority of them did it for enjoyment and others engaged in gambling to make money. Others indulged in gambling for excitement, relations and to hide from daily problems. Still, others engaged in gambling as a social activity and to have a feeling of being mature (Derevensky, 2012, p. 76).

Notably, many people do not want to be associated with gambling because they feel that it is associated with the loss of the trust, lying, and loss of money among other bad behaviours (Thompson, 2001). However, there are circumstances that force them into gambling. For example, gambling can occur on a continuum with many individuals not engaging in the act at all.

In additions, there are those individuals, who gamble once in a while, or those engaging in the activity many times and experiencing minimum negative financial or social consequences (Meyer, 2008).

Impact of problem gambling on social & personal life

Gamblers who gamble frequently with valuable stakes and cannot even stick to their pre-set limits of time and the stakes may find themselves with severe problems (Derevensky, 2012 p. 31-32).

The gambling related problems impact on individuals in different ways. Some of them may lose control once. This may spell their fate because of their episodic and short-lived control loss. To others, losing control may be a progressive disorder.

In this case, it becomes habitual or addictive in a way that no matter how hard the victims try to get themselves out of gambling activities. This becomes problematic, and the victims always go back to gamble. The gambling disorder has been given many names such as pathological gambling, problem gambling, compulsive gambling, or disordered gambling (Doweiko, 2009).

When individuals get addicted to gambling, they cause many problems to themselves including emotional, familial, psychological, interpersonal, financial and legal problems (Grant & Potenza, 2004, p. 4).

Since many people are exposed to gambling, knowing that it is about taking risks and controls, they get attracted into trying their luck. The losers tend to keep on trying while appreciating that the activity is a game (Cunningham, 2011). In the process, both winners and losers blindly find themselves so much into the game that it gets hard for them to quit. They become addicts of gambling (Bledsoe, 2004, p. 86).

In most cases, the youths are the most affected by the gambling activity (Fabiansson, 2010). According to research by Derevensky in 2012, it is evident that the adolescents get exposure to gambling early before they start experimenting with cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, drug use, or engaging in sexual activities.

A research by Griffiths and Sutherland in 1998 discovered that many youths between the age of 11 years and 16 years engaged themselves in gambling at least once a week; they often smoked cigarettes; got drunk with alcohol regularly and took illegal drugs. Through the psychological perspective, one can handle matters that are related to emotions (Orford, Sproston, Erens, White and Michtell, 2003). For example, in that situation, emotional control could be more important than financial gains in understanding gamblers (Beilstein, 1979, p. 305).

Gambling can be correlated with other addictive activities such as the use of tobacco, drug abuse, and taking alcohol (Sirgy, 2012, p. 38). People often assume the addictive behaviours and take them as prototypical moments of behaviours that are not truly self controlled and lacking self governance (Wengler, 2006, p. 127).

Pathological gamblers invest a lot into the gambling activity. In this case, they put their personal relationships, occupational status and financial stability at risk. Such people are difficult to handle. Regardless of the increase of family and financial distress, they continue to gamble.

Here, gambling controls them since it is difficult for them to control their urges to gamble (Fortune & Goodie, 2009). The pathological gamblers tend to gamble with valuable stakes or high amounts of money in order to satisfy their urges for entertainment and pleasure. Their tendency or behaviour of putting gambling in the forefront other than thinking of their personal, occupational, and financial well-being is what makes them great risk takers (Galski, 1987, p. 39).

Problem gambling affects or rather impacts the social life of people in a negative manner. The social impacts of problem gambling include the mental health problems, suicide, family or relationship problems, cases of divorce, and vulnerability of generations to come into excessive gambling (Ciarrocchi, 2001).

Research studies indicate that problem gambling is on the increase. This is due to the increasing number of people presenting themselves for treatment for problem gambling. It can also be attributed to many divorces that are associated with problem gambling. In addition, the youths are getting involved in gambling at an early age more than they get involved in other addictive activities (Galski, 1987).

There have numerous incidences where the youths have been reported to have committed suicide due to gambling. The suicidal cases occur as a result of losing huge amounts that are beyond the loose tolerance. When the loss is too much to bear, some problem gamblers who are most probably the youths, commit suicide since the world becomes useless to them after a great loss. That is why some of the youth problem gamblers developmental problems due to confusions that are instrumented by gambling (Nicholas, 1986).

Problem gambling makes people suffer because of the need to gamble and the obsessive behaviour. Firstly, such victims of gambling have difficulties in maintaining their personal health (Gerstein et al 1999). Another problem is related to career responsibility.

According to the research, many individuals may become jobless, and those who are fortunate to remain in the workplace perform poorly in production due to reporting to the workplace late than required. In this case, they fail to attend to jobs (absenteeism) and get preoccupied with gambling (Dickerson, 1984, p. 38; Ladouceur et al 1994).

Problem gambling is of importance when it comes to gauging reliability of things such as in predicting behaviours or population discrimination behaviours. However, it is in most cases associated with negative impacts. In gambling the terms problem gamblers, pathological, or compulsive gamblers are used interchangeably.

They are used to define a condition whose characteristics includes a loss of control over gambling, serious disruptions of families and jobs, theft cases and losses or attempts to win back stakes (money) that have been lost while in the gamble (Oei & Gordon 2008).

Prof Orford (BBC, 2012) noted that those addicted no longer regarded gambling in its sense of winning. He asserted “By the time people get compulsive about their gambling, they’re not enjoying it. They’re torn in two. They’re dependent on it and getting something psychological from it, but they know it’s ruining their life in certain ways” (BBC, 2012, para 17).

Psychological factors of gambling

The examples of the psychological factors of gambling include personality features such as dysfunctional and functional impulsivity; poor mechanisms to cope with stress; impaired processing of rewards and the mechanisms of defence such as feeling guilty and shameful, which drive the ongoing addiction.

Dysfunctional impulsivity is associated with a poor response to treatment and not treatment completion. It is most likely that individuals with dysfunctional impulsive will drop out of treatment and report back to problem gambling more than those individuals with functional impulsive. The factor of poor mechanism to deal with stress also affects or rather leads to gambling (Dickerson, 1984, p. 38).

Addiction to gambling is not necessarily caused by addiction of money. Most of them do it to escape from stress, painful pasts, seek arousal among other reasons.

They gamble to avoid painful emotions, for example; sadness, depression, guilt, shame, and humiliation among others (Ladouceur et al 1994). Therefore, in such a case, the problem gambler will be stressed. Thus, it is most likely that he or she will end up in gambling activities thinking that it is the best way to deal with the stress. This is due to a poor mechanism of dealing with the stress.

The factor of impaired processing of rewards and mechanisms of defence such as the guilt and shame that one feels makes a problem gambler to continue with their addiction (Ciarrocchi, 2001). This factor tries to explain that the problem gambler continues with the addictive thinking that it is the best solution. However, in the real sense, this is like burying himself deep to the extent that turning to normal life becomes impossible (Oei & Gordon 2008).

The theories of people’s emotions or feeling while gambling includes the sensational or arousal theory, the opponent-process theory, and the reversal theory. The sensational theory explains that the need for excitement is a trait that is biological, and this is different from one individual to another.

Since gambling is known to be an addictive behaviour, the gamblers will do their best in order to meet their needs (Chapman, 2007). This will be achieved after the reinforcement of their emotional relief. The theory of opponent process explains that arousal from opponent A is automatically counteracted by that of B or C. The theory further explains that, with repetition, the response of A will grow weaker in the process while that of B will be stronger and long-lasting.

This shows that high-stake gamblers are motivated by opponents, and that is why the pathological gamblers enjoy this theory. The reversal theory shows that different individuals need either to be stimulated or tranquillised, and these guys behave in ways that direct them to that state (Oei & Gordon 2008).

Casino gambling can be more fun and profitable as well to people or players’ mental and physical health. They are associated with dangers such as cheating among gamblers, machine malfunctions, and criminality among many others (Crowder, 2006). Cases of arrests due to cheating and other criminality are common in casinos.

For example, people get arrested because of manipulating EGMs. The cheating gamblers and the gambling operators take advantage of each other. In this case, as the gamblers try to cheat the operators, they in return can also try to scam the gamblers. These people may end up shooting each other. This is exactly what happens in most cases when they conflict with each other.

The casino environment is well planned to take people’s money. In this case, the casinos have no windows or clocks to distract the patrons from gambling. This makes the gamblers forget their schedules and continue playing till their pockets are empty. In addition, there are only pictures of winners and not losers, which adorn the atrium walls, there are scantily dressed cocktail waitresses, free alcoholic beverages among other attractions.

They operate on a 24-hour basis, which adds to the owners’ advantages.The environment is very attractive, and that is why people develop problem gambling at the shortest time possible (Crowder, 2006). There are flashing lights, whistles and bells. Their advertisements and slogans are set in a way that the gambler will not be much concerned about the amount they lose. In this case, they gamblers do not notice when their pockets are running out.

The Cognitive model of gambling asserts the activity emanates from illogical beliefs. Those addicted to gambling have illogical beliefs that they stand a high chance of winning. They do not value the amount they spend but instead overestimate the amount they will gain in the gamble (Georgakopoulos, 2005).

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