Problem Gambling Defined

Responsible Gambling vs. Problem Gambling

Many people are able to gamble responsibly and safely. It is estimated, however, that two to five percent of the population are problem or compulsive gamblers.

The Definition of Problem Gambling

According to the DSM-IV-TR*, “The essential feature of pathological gambling is persistent and recurring maladaptive gambling behavior that disrupts personal, family or vocational pursuits.” The DSM-IV-TR cites 10 criteria that characterize this disease.

According to the definition on the website for the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), “Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational.”

In addition, the NCPG website expands on the above definition:

“The term “problem gambling” includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as “pathological” or “compulsive” gambling, which is a progressive addiction characterized by the following:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling
  • A need to bet more money more frequently
  • Restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop
  • “Chasing” losses
  • Loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.”
*The DSM-IV-TR is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Text Revision, that is published by the American Psychiatric Association.