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The Prevalence of Problem Gambling Around the World

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Problem gambling has been an issue since the first humans started placing bets, and it will continue to be a problem for as long as the human race exists. There’s no running around from it, as addictive behaviour is part of human nature. 

Furthermore, as the global gambling market continues to grow, the impact of problem gambling is unlikely to disappear. Thus, understanding what it is -and how to prevent it- will be more important than ever in the coming years. This article helps explain all you need to know about the prevalence of problem gambling around the world.

Problem gambling: what is it?

Problem gambling, ludomania, or gambling disorder, is the recurrence of gambling in an individual that affects their finances, interpersonal relationships, or psychological stability. Depending on its severity, problem gambling can be diagnosed as a mental disorder and could require treatment by a medical professional.

Ludomania is an addictive disorder, as people who suffer from it often exhibit symptoms similar to those that afflict convalescents of other addictive disorders like drug and alcohol abuse. 

In the online gambling world, legit casinos often look after their players with responsible gambling features and campaigns to prevent problem gambling. 

How many problem gamblers are there?

The percentage of problem gamblers varies per country, and each country has different percentages of people impacted by a gambling disorder depending on their socioeconomic status. However, it is estimated that the percentage of people with a gambling disorder is between 0.1%–6% of the global population

It is estimated that around 26% of the world’s inhabitants have incurred some sort of gambling throughout their lives. 

Impacts of gambling disorder

Gambling disorder can be devastating to the life of those who suffer from it. Gambling addiction compromises the financial and mental stability of human beings, with the biggest impacts coming in the form of the following:

  • Debts and asset loss. Compulsive gambling likely leads to debt as players will eventually run out of money if they can’t stop. Players will take loans, either from relatives, friends, or financial institutions, and this could lead to asset loss as part of debt repayments or as means of raising money to fuel their addiction.
  • Disruption of interpersonal relationships. Addiction will likely lead to people distancing themselves from loved ones as they more and more time gambling. Developing debts that can’t be repaid can also lead to issues with relationships. 
  • Psychological problems. Intrusive thoughts and the inability to remain composed are common issues that accompany problem gambling. 

Signs that may indicate that you’re a problem gambler

There are some clear signs that you, or people you know, may suffer from gambling disorder. Problem gamblers often present the following “symptoms”: 

  • Inability to control gambling expenditure. This refers to when you can’t seem to stop, even when it’s looking likely that gambling more money wouldn’t be wise.
  • Tendency to borrow money to gamble. Gambling with other people’s money is a clear indicator of a gambling disorder. 
  • Recurrence of gambling thoughts. People who constantly think about gambling, regardless of what activities they’re partaking in, are likely developing or have developed an addiction to gambling. 
  • Skipping activities with relatives or friends to focus on gambling. Being invited to social events but opting to stay home to place bets or gamble in online casinos, or losing interest in other activities in favour of gambling, is a clear indicator of a latent issue. 
  • Trying to win back losses, otherwise known as chasing losses. Problem gamblers are far more likely to gamble money when they’re playing as they attempt to make up for the cash that they’ve lost. This isn’t only ill-advised, but also a sign of gambling addiction. 

How to treat problem gambling

Thankfully, suffering from problem gambling isn’t the end of the world, although it may have life-changing consequences. To treat problem gambling, it’s important to follow these three crucial steps: 

  • Tell your friends and family about your problem. Accepting your problem and telling your loved ones about it is crucial in the “healing” process. 
  • Seek help by contacting competent organisations. There are plenty of non-profit organizations and government institutions that have competent professionals willing to help you out. 
  • Ensure that you can’t easily access money or have someone prevent you from spending it on gambling. Your friends and family could play a role in helping you out, as it can prove to be quite difficult to do so on your own. 

Play for fun – don’t let leisure become a problem

As addictive as gambling can be, those who manage to keep it under control are still set to have fun – and likely make a profit if luck stays on their side. The most important aspect of properly enjoying gambling is knowing how to control expenditure and knowing when to stop if it all starts to spiral out of control. 

If you have an addictive personality, refrain from partaking in gambling activities. Play in legit gambling establishments or visit the world’s best online casinos to keep yourself safe at all times.


Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle. 

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