Can Certain Hobbies and Interests Mimic Problem Gambling?

When it comes to gambling and serious problem behaviors, many people envision one or more common culprits: casino games, lotteries, sports betting, and even games such as Bingo. However, other recreational activities not associated with gambling can bring about some of the same consequences when pushed to the extreme.

Baseball Card Collecting

While it seems innocuous enough, baseball card collecting can morph from a hobby into an obsession with behavior akin to problem gamblers. Here’s how: Some baseball card collectors engage in “box betting,” where collectors purchase boxes or sizable collections of baseball cards in hopes of finding one or more particularly valuable ones that they could turn around and sell for a handsome payday.

This can produce a few distinct “thrills” for some people. The first is the bidding process a collector partakes in to determine what to purchase and for how much, which can involve a significant amount of time, especially if bidding on several boxes simultaneously. The second reward is the grand reveal — sifting through the collection for any valuable cards.

Coin Collecting

On the surface, coin collecting can seem like nothing but a harmless, if not a bit nostalgic, hobby — although the activity could result in unhealthy practices. Collectors may not be fully satisfied until their collection is complete. Depending on the individual and the collection’s “catch” (coins that only circulated for a brief time, showcase mint errors, or have historical value), this may prove to be quite the feat. The pursuit of “one more collection” or even “one more coin” can turn a passion into a controlling objective that impacts collectors’ finances or spare time.

Online Shopping

The advent of virtual marketplaces coupled with people spending more time at home has rendered online shopping an experience familiar to most. The opportunity to make purchases over the internet through a bidding process may spark behaviors similar to problem gambling. In fact, a 2014 study conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found that adolescents at risk for problem gambling were more likely to report a tension or anxiety that only shopping could relieve.

Stock Trading

The lines between “hobby,” “income,” and “problem” are hard to nail down when it comes to stock trading. In a previous blog, we’ve explored the connection between stocks, investments, and problem gambling and the overlapping cognitive and motivational attributes of each. It’s worth noting that online brokerages have made it easier than ever before to invest at will.

Healthy Activities for Problem Gambling Recovery

Whether you are recovering from a gambling problem or looking to get involved in something fresh and productive, consider taking up the following activities:

Problem gambling behaviors, it seems, aren’t exclusive to slot machines and horse races; traces and overt displays of which can be found through activities that some might not think twice about. If you or someone close to you has a gambling problem, call our helpline at 800-GAMBLER today for more information about treatment and recovery options.



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