Let's put faces on the numbers. Here are a few Case Studies of Problem Gamblers:
Design: A male 31-year old “fruit machine addict” was interviewed three times over a three-month period. The participant was diagnosed as a pathological gambler using both the South Oaks Gambling Screen and the DSM-IV criteria.
Results The male gambler displayed a very unusual pattern of problem gambling that would best be described as binge gambling. The participant’s gambling binges were typically caused by very specific ‘trigger’ incidents (e.g., relationship break-up). Gambling problems appeared to be related to low self-esteem coupled with feeling depressed and having nothing else to do. Gambling problems were usually linked to other underlying problems. When these are dealt with, his problem gambling all but disappeared.
Conclusions Binge problem gambling appears to be less serious than chronic problem gambling but can still cause significant problems in the lives of people it affects. (Source)
"The expansion of gambling industries worldwide is intertwined with the growing government dependence on gambling revenue for fiscal assignments. In Australia, electronic gaming machines (EGMs) have dominated recent gambling industry growth. As EGMs have proliferated, growing recognition has emerged that EGM distribution closely reflects levels of socioeconomic disadvantage. More machines are located in less advantaged regions." (Source)
Translation: Poor and Ignorant are targeted intentionally.
"adolescent gambling was predominantly composed of private betting on games of skill, particularly card games (named by more than 40 percent of those who mentioned a favorite game). Nearly 3 out of 10 youths, versus just more than one-tenth of adults, bet on such games in the past year...
The other most prominent youth games, albeit much less popular than private games of skill, were betting in sports pools and buying lottery tickets. Youths particularly favored instant lotteries; about three-quarters of the young lottery players bought instant (scratch-off type) lottery tickets. (Source)
Translation: Kids mimic what they see on TV and someone is selling Lottery tickets to under-age youth.
"Pathological gambling is recognized as a psychological disorder in DSM-IV, but relatively little effort has been dedicated to identifying and treating this disorder. For three reasons, clinicians should become familiar with the diagnosis of this condition, and investigation of treatment strategies should be expanded.
One reason that clinicians should become more involved is that pathological gambling results in serious personal and societal problems, including financial, legal, employment, medical, and psychological difficulties. For example, gambling-related debts ranging from $38,000 to $113,000 have been reported in the literature, and up to 60 percent of pathological gamblers commit illegal acts to support gambling. Pathological gambling is also associated with health consequences, including high rates of insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiac problems, high blood pressure, and headaches.
Co-morbid psychiatric conditions are also common. Up to 50 percent of gamblers have substance use disorders. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit disorder, anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders occur frequently in pathological gamblers, and some reports suggest that these conditions share a physiological substrate with pathological gambling. Gamblers also are at increased risk for suicide. Between 48 percent and 70 percent of pathological gamblers contemplate suicide, and 13 to 20 percent attempt suicide.
"Children of compulsive gamblers are often prone to suffer abuse, as well as neglect, as a result of parental problem or pathological gambling" (NORC, 1999)
Research consistently shows higher rates of pathological gambling in teens whose parents gamble too much.
Children of problem gamblers have been shown to have higher levels of use for tobacco, alcohol, drug use, and overeating than do their classroom peers.
Child endangerment and child abuse may increase
The NRC reported on two studies indicating between 10 and 17 percent of children of compulsive gamblers had been abused"
Child endangerment was exemplified in Oregon with the September 2001 report of an Oregon licensed day-care provider who left three children (1, 2 and 3 years old) in a van for over 11 hours while she gambled in a casino (Source)
According to the National Research Council (1999), studies indicate that between 25-50 percent of spouses of pathological gamblers have been abused
Case studies of 10 casino communities revealed that the majority of those communities witnessed increases in domestic violence related to the opening of casinos (National Opinion Research Center, 1999) (Ibid)
Several studies suggest that crime rates rise with increased availability of gambling to communities, but this issue is under intense debate
Forty percent of clients enrolled in Oregon’s gambling treatment system reported committing crimes to finance their gambling
“As access to money becomes more limited, gamblers often resort to crime in order to pay debts, appease bookies, maintain appearances, and garner more money to gamble”
Studies of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) members report that approximately half of the participants had stolen to gamble and over one-third had been arrested
The vast majority of gambling-related crimes are non-violent; embezzlement, check forgery, stealing credit cards, fencing stolen goods, tax evasion, insurance fraud, employee theft and fraud are common gambling-related crimes