Pathological Gambling: Who Gains from Others’ Losses?

  • Ronen Huberfeld
  • Pinhas N. Dannon


Gambling is a popular activity across most cultures and throughout history. Overall, gambling all over the world is going through a resurrection during the past decades and becoming a legitimate and socially acceptable form of entertainment. The total casino gambling market grew from USD100 billion in 2006 to USD117 billion in 2010. This market is expected to rise from $117.6 billion in 2010 to $182.8 billion in 2015. Today, millions of families throughout the nation suffer from the effects of problem and pathological gambling. As with other addictive disorders, those who suffer from problem or pathological gambling engage in behavior that is destructive to themselves, their families, their work, and even their communities. The problems include depression, abuse, divorce, homelessness, and suicide, in addition to the individual economic problems. Today, pathological gambling is understood as a complex, multidimensional phenomenon. Current research points out biological, psychological, and social factors are all relevant in the development of problematic levels of gambling. Prevalence surveys indicate that only a small proportion (<10 %) of individuals who have gambling disorders seek formal treatment. Accepted treatment strategies combine pharmacological and psychological intervention with long-term follow-up.


Problem Gambling Pathological Gambling Gambling Behavior Money Laundering Cognitive Distortion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders text revision (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Ashley, L. L., & Boehlke, K. (2012). Pathological gambling: A general overview. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 44, 27–37.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Black, D. W., Shaw, M. C., McCormick, B. A., & Allen, J. (2012). Marital status, childhood maltreatment, and family dysfunction: A controlled study of pathological gambling. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 73(10), 1293–1297.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blaszczynski, A., Huynh, S., Dumlao, V. J., & Farrell, E. (1998). Problem gambling within a Chinese speaking community. Journal of Gambling Studies, 14(4), 359–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blaszczynski, A., & Nower, L. (2002). A pathways model of problem and pathological gambling. Addiction, 97, 487–499.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clark, L. (2009). Decision-making during gambling: An integration of cognitive and psychobiological approaches. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 365(1538), 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crockford, D. N., & el-Guebaly, N. (1998). Psychiatric comorbidity in pathological gambling: A critical review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 43(1), 43–50.Google Scholar
  8. Dalfabbro, P., & King, D. (2012). Gambling in Australia: Experiences, problems, research and policy. Addiction, 107, 1556–1561. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03802.x.
  9. Dannon, P. N., Lowengrub, K., Gonopolski, Y., Musin, E., & Kotler, M. (2006). Pathological gambling: A review of phenomenological models and treatment modalities for under recognized psychiatric disorder. Primary companion of J of Clinical Psychiatry, 8(6), 334–339.Google Scholar
  10. Defense Human Resources Agency [DHRD]. (2010). Adjudicative desk reference: FinancialGambling. Retrieved from
  11. Delfabbro, P. H., & Winefield, A. H. (2000). Predictors of irrational thinking in regular slot machine gamblers. Journal of Psychology, 134(2), 117–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dembinsky, Y., Iancu, I., & Dannon, P. (2007). Pathological gambling. Harefuah, 146(10), 785–789, 813.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Canadian Heritage. (2002). Gambling on culture in Canada: Gaming as a source of funding for culture, the arts and heritage. Google Scholar
  14. Fong, T. W., & Tsuang, J. (2007). Asian-Americans, addictions, and barriers to treatment. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 4(11), 51–59.Google Scholar
  15. Goudriaan, A. E., Oosterlaan, J., & de Beurs, E. (2006). Neurocognitive functions in pathological gambling: A comparison with alcohol dependence, Tourette syndrome and normal controls. Addiction, 101, 534–547.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grant, J. E., Potenza, M. N., Weinstein, A., & Gorelick, D. A. (2010). Introduction to behavioral addictions. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 36(5), 233–241.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grant, MD, J. E. (2013). Liana RN Schreiber, Brian L Odiaug. In review phenomenology and treatment of behavioural addictions. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(5), 252–259.Google Scholar
  18. Haugen, D. M. (2006). Legalized gambling. New York: Infobase.Google Scholar
  19. Hodgins, D. C., Mansley, C., & Thygesen, K. (2006). Risk factors for suicide ideation and attempts among pathological gamblers. American Journal on Addictions, 15(4), 303–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hodgins, D. C., Stea, J. N., & Grant, J. E. (2011). Gambling disorders. Lancet, 378, 1874–1884.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huberfeld, R., Gersner, R., Rosenberg, O., Kotler, M., & Dannon, P. N. (2011). Football gambling three arm-controlled study: Gamblers, amateurs and laypersons. Psychopathology, 46(1), 28–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Iancu, I., Lowengrub, K., Dembinsky, Y., Kotler, M., & Dannon, P. N. (2008). Pathological gambling: An update on neuropathophysiology and pharmacotherapy. CNS Drugs, 22(2), 123–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Israeli Parliament Center of Information and Research. (2008). Gambling in Israel. Retrieved from
  24. Jacques, C., Ladouceur, R., & Feriand, F. (2000). Impact of availability on gambling: A longitudinal study. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45(9), 810–815.Google Scholar
  25. Johansson, A., Grant, J. E., Kim, S. W., Odlaug, B. L., & Götestam, K. G. (2009). Risk factors for problematic gambling: A critical literature review. Journal of Gambling Studies, 25(1), 67–92.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ladouceur, R., Dubé, D., & Bujold, A. (1994). Prevalence of pathological gambling and related problems among college students in the Quebec metropolitan area. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 39(5), 289–293.Google Scholar
  27. Ladouceur, R., & Mayrand, M. (1987). Depressive behaviors and gambling. Psychological Reports, 60, 1019–1022.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, BK., & Rovers, M. (2008). Bringing torn lives together again: effects of the first congruence couple training application to clients in pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies 8, 113–129.Google Scholar
  29. Loo, J. M., Raylu, N., & Oei, T. P. (2008). Gambling among the Chinese: A comprehensive review. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 1152–1166.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mason, K., & Arnold, R. (2007). Problem gambling risk factors and associated behaviours and health status: Results from the 2002/03 New Zealand Health Survey. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 120(1257), U604–U616.Google Scholar
  31. McMillen, J. (1996). Understanding gambling: History, concepts, and theories. In J. McMillen (Ed.), Gambling cultures: Studies in history and interpretation (pp. 6–39). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Monaghan, S., & Blaszczynski, A. (2009). Consequences of winning: The role of gambling outcomes in the development of irrational beliefs. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 37, 49–59.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Montague, P. R., Hyman, S. E., & Cohen, J. D. (2004). Computational roles for dopamine in behavioural control. Nature, 431(7010), 760–767.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moran, E. (1970a). Clinical and social aspects of risk-taking. Proceeding of the Royal Society of Medicine, 63, 1273–1277.Google Scholar
  35. Moran, E. (1970b). Varieties of pathological gambling. British Journal of Psychiatry, 116, 593–597.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Myrseth, H., Brunborg, G. S., & Eidem, M. (2010). Differences in cognitive distortions between pathological and non-pathological gamblers with preferences for chance or skill games. Journal of Gambling Studies, 26, 561–569.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. National Gambling Impact Study Commission [NGISC]. (1999). NGISC Final report. Washington, DC: NGISC.Google Scholar
  38. Petry, N. M. (2005). Pathological gambling: Etiology, comorbidity, and treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  39. Petry, N. M., Armentano, C., Kuoch, T., Norinth, T., & Smith, L. (2003). Gambling participation and problems among South East Asian refugees to the United States. Psychiatric Services, 54(8), 1142–1148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Potenza, M. N. (2008). The neurobiology of pathological gambling and drug addiction: An overview and new findings (Review). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363(1507), 3181–3189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Potenza, M. N., Leung, H. C., Blumberg, H. P., Peterson, B. S., Fulbright, R. K., Lacadie, C. M., et al. (2003). An FMRI Stroop task study of ventromedial prefrontal cortical function in pathological gamblers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(11), 1990–1994.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. PwC. (2011). Global gaming outlook: The casino and online gaming market to 2015. Retrieved from
  43. Reuter, J., Raedler, T., Rose, M., Hand, I., Gläscher, J., & Büchel, C. (2005). Pathological gambling is linked to reduced activation of the mesolimbic reward system. Nature Neuroscience, 8(2), 147–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schwer, R., Thompson, W., & Nakamura, D. (2003). Beyond the limits of recreation: Social costs of gambling in Southern Nevada. Paper presented at the 2003 Annual meeting of the Far West and American Popular Culture Association.Google Scholar
  45. Scoboria, A., & Wilson, T. (2011). Memory for future gambling wins. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25(3), 565–572.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sharpe, L., & Tarrier, N. (1993). Towards a cognitive-behavioural theory of problem gambling. British Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 407–412.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shinohara, K., Yanagisawa, A., Kagota, Y., Gomi, A., Nemoto, K., Moriya, E., et al. (1999). Physiological changes in pachinko players; beta-endorphin, Catecholamines, immune system substances and heart rate. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 18, 37–42.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Spanagel, R., Herz, A., & Shippenberg, T. S. (1992). Opposing tonically active endogenous opioid systems modulate the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A, 89, 2046–2050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Steel, Z., & Blaszczynski, A. (1996). The factorial structure of pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 3–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Swiss Institute of Comparative Law. (2006). Study of gambling services in the internal market of the European Union: Final report. Brussels, Belgium: European Commission.Google Scholar
  51. Toneatto, T., Blitz-Miller, T., Calderwood, K., Dragonetti, R., & Tsanos, A. (1997). Cognitive distortions in heavy gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 13(3), 253–266.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tse, S., Yu, A. C. H., Rossen, F., & Wang, C. (2010). Examination of Chinese gambling problems through a socio-historical-cultural perspective. The Scientific World Journal, 10, 1694–1704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. van Holst, R. J., van der Brink, W., Veltman, D. J., & Goudriaan, A. E. (2010). Brain imaging studies in pathological gambling. Current Psychiatry Reports, 12, 418–425.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Volberg, R. A., Abbott, M. W., Rönnberg, S., & Munck, I. M. (2001). Prevalence and risks of pathological gambling in Sweden. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 104(4), 250–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Welte, J. W., Barnes, G. M., Wieczorek, W. F., & Tidwell, M. C. (2004). Gambling participantion and pathology in the United States—A sociodemographic analysis using classification trees. Addictive Behaviors, 29(5), 983–989.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wong, T. L. K., & So, E. M. T. (2003). Prevalence estimates of problem and pathological gambling in Hong Kong. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 1353–1354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Woo, K. (2003). The Chinese community problem gambling project. Social Work Today, 21, 26–29.Google Scholar
  58. World Health Organisation. (1992). International classification of diseases (ICD-10): Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva, Switzerland: Author.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beer Yaakov Mental Health and Rehabilitation CenterSackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv UniversityBeer YaakovIsrael

Personalised recommendations