General Information

Gambling & Medications

  • 1 in 20 American adults will have some type of difficulty with gambling in their lifetime
  • 95% of Americans have gambled in their lives
  • Adolescents and college students are twice as likely as adults to have problems with gambling
  • 1 out of every 3 substance abusers also struggles with gambling
  • By 1999 80% of seniors had gambled in their lifetime compared to only 35% in 1976
  • Casino employees are more susceptible to problem gambling than the general public
  • Individuals of lower socio-economic status are more likely to be impaired by gambling behavior
  • Asians, African-Americans and Native Americans have an increased vulnerability to gambling problems
  • Women and seniors are showing increased numbers as problem gamblers
  • Persons who are divorced or separated are more likely to develop gambling problems



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Problem Gambling in New Jersey

  • New Jersey citizens with lower incomes have higher rates of problems with gambling
  • Approximately 350,000 adults in New Jersey will battle gambling problems in their lifetime
  • Roughly 87,000 seniors in New Jersey are affected by problem or disordered gambling
  • The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that currently 30,000 youths aged 14-17 are dealing with a gambling addiction
  • Substance abuse funding allocates $11.68 per person compared to just $0.11 for gambling
  • NJ receives less total and per capita funding than New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware
  • States with earlier histories of legalized gambling and more accessibility (like New Jersey) show increased rates of problem or disordered gambling
  • Atlantic City has had one of the highest rates of suicide of any U.S. city since the start of legalized casino gambling

Important Factors for Problem Gambling Development

  • More significant life events have occurred in gamblers than non-gamblers
  • Children of problem gamblers are much more likely to develop gambling problems
  • Nearly 10% of first-degree relatives of problem or disordered gamblers have gambling problems
  • Communities in close proximity of casino establishments have an increased risk for gambling problems
  • People with gambling addictions often have a harder time controlling their impulses and can be easily bored
  • Many people gamble for the excitement and thrill
  • Senior gamblers are more likely to acknowledge social benefits of gambling participation
  • Emotional problems (e.g. depression and stress) can lead to gambling behavior aimed at reducing these undesired states
  • Many types of gambling play use variable ratio schedules of reinforcement in which wins and losses occur in a manner that the player finds exciting even if they are losing more than winning
  • Problem or disordered gamblers may prefer immediate rewards over long-term rewards even if the short term comes with more negative consequences
  • Many people overestimate their chances of winning and/or mistakenly believe that prior losses means they have will win more in the future
  • Some research has shown that gamblers may have a decreased sense of reward


  • Some common motivating factors for quitting gambling include financial concerns, emotional factors, thoughts about family and children, hitting rock bottom, and evaluation of pros and cons of gambling behavior
  • Problem or disordered gambling  is often co-morbid with alcohol and substance disorders, depression and bipolar disorder, and other anxiety disorders like PTSD and general anxiety disorder
  • Engagement in new activities and recollection of past gambling problems are common methods to help abstain from gambling
  • Obstacles to treatment include person’s desire to stop on their own, pride or embarrassment about seeking out help, belief that gambling problems aren’t that severe, lack of knowledge of treatment options, trouble sharing with others, and stigma concerns
  • A substantial number of people achieve natural recovery, doing so without going to formal treatment or attending self-help groups
  • Middle-aged gamblers are more likely to come for treatment than younger gamblers
  • Minorities are less likely to seek formal treatment than Caucasians
  • Medication trials for gambling addiction have had mixed results, the most common type is serotonin reuptake inhibitors


Gamblers Anonymous

  • GA started in 1957 and now has chapters in every state and many international meetings
  • Self-help groups are the most utilized form of treatment sought by gamblers
  • Alcoholics Anonymous greatly influenced GA’s development though GA focuses more on finances and family involvement and less on spirituality than does AA
  • The availability of meetings in rural areas is still scarce
  • Some have criticized meetings as lacking a full perspective, specifically for female and ethnic minority gambling issues
  • Previous GA participation has led to better outcomes in formal treatment
  • There are also self-help groups for spouses (Gam-Anon) and children (Gam-A-Teen) of gamblers
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