Types of Gamblers

Gambling is meant to be a form of entertainment, and for most people it as. However, some people become addicted to the rush and are unable to control themselves – even as their gambling devastates them and their loved ones through financial ruin, family dysfunction and emotional instability. There are many different types of gamblers

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Types of Gamblers

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Gambling is one of many forms of entertainment they engage in (but not the primary one).

  • Rarely think about gambling
  • Generally gamble infrequently, but there may be some regular activity as well (e.g., a monthly poker game, an occasional vacation to Las Vegas, a weekly or even daily lottery ticket)
  • Gambling does not result in any negative life consequences
  • Possess control over gambling duration, frequency or money spent (with very rare exceptions)
  • Would not be upset if unable to ever gamble again
  • Have no lasting negative financial consequences as a result of the gambling
  • There are no attempts to hide any aspect of gambling behavior
  • Other people do not see their gambling as excessive

Professional

Rarely loses control when placing bets.

  • Gambling is methodical and planned (e.g., a professional horse gambler may not bet on every race)
  • Maintains discipline and refrains from impulsive betting
  • Accepts financial losses without chasing to win them back
  • Gambling is their primary source of income
  • Has the potential to become a problem or pathological gambler
Note 1
Professional gamblers do not meet the DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling, but may have a couple of symptoms (e.g., preoccupation). It can be very complex to distinguish professional gamblers from problem and pathological gamblers, and the assessment should only be conducted by a trained professional who also consults with the gambler’s family/friends regarding the presence of symptoms.
Note 2
Most problem and pathological gamblers fantasize about being a professional gambler or mistakenly believe that they are. However, there are very few true professional gamblers.
Note 3
In the year 2000, it was estimated that there were fewer than 3,000 professional gamblers in the U.S. and Canada, and only 50 professional gamblers in the U.S. who earned more than $100,000 annually by gambling. Psychological profiles of professional horse gamblers show they tend to be somewhat boring, socially insensitive, extremely unsentimental, hyper-vigilant and very tense. (McCown & Chamberlain, 2000)

Antisocial

Engages in criminal activities, scams and rip-offs.

  • Gambling is a way to steal money; the gambler may use loaded dice, marked cards, and fixed sports events or horse races
  • Different from gamblers who commit a crime to pay debt
  • May have a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Problem

Gambling results in at least one negative consequence to the gambler or a person in their life (includes relationship problems).

  • Money used for gambling should be allocated for other purposes
  • There might be family discord regarding the time or amount of money spent gambling
  • Gambling may diminish work performance or ability to fully focus on work
  • Long-term goals and ambitions are sometimes replaced by gambling
  • May quit or stop for periods of time, and may do so to “prove” that they do not have a problem
  • Difficulty tolerating losing, e.g., mood swings after losing, chasing loses
  • May deny having a problem while others can see it
  • Discomfort with gambling behavior results in attempts to hide or minimize it
  • Gambling is seen as a second occupation with revenue potential (may want to become professional gamblers)
  • May use gambling as a way to support costs of daily living, eventually getting into financial difficulties
  • Amount of time spent gambling seems excessive to an outsider
  • Money to gamble may be borrowed from others or from credit cards
  • May stop gambling after a large loss only to resume after finances have improved
  • Often becomes a “celebrity” at gambling venues, e.g., known by name to staff, receives comps or other reward programs that encourage additional gambling
  • Gambling behavior does not meet full criteria for a formal diagnosis of pathological gambling (as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry, DSM-V™) but often meets one to three symptoms

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Feel a rush that is likely related to an excessive release of the neurotransmitter dopamine (a brain chemical associated with an experience of pleasure).

  • Gets particularly excited about the prospect of gambling, which may or may not be outwardly expressed
  • Typically has a preference for games such as cards, craps, roulette and sports betting
  • May bet larger amounts after a win
  • The feeling of excitement from gambling becomes a major focus
  • Action gamblers are more likely to be men than women
  • Are often highly intelligent, highly motivated and have Type-A personalities
  • More likely to bet when they are feeling good, happy or lucky (in contrast to an escape gambler

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