Although it doesn't receive as much ink as substance addiction, gambling addiction is on the minds of gaming regulators and attorneys, according to a panel at the Saratoga Institute for Equine, Racing, and Gaming Law Conference this week.
Studies show one to three percent of the population suffers from gambling addiction, roughly on par with other impulse control disorders like shopping or sexual addictions. Gambling addiction is a recognized psychological condition, according to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the gold standard for such definitions), but it carries a stigma.
“If you think you don't know a problem gambler you're probably mistaken,” said Nanette Horner, executive vice president, chief counsel, COO at Empire Resorts. “A problem gambler doesn't have a sign on them. You can't smell it on their breath, they don't have track marks. It's a hidden disease, but chances are you have met a problem gambler in your life.”
Horner said many people wrongly believe gambling addiction is a character flaw or a matter of poor financial management. Rather, the impulse control element of the disorder means addicted gamblers are those who chase losses with more expenditures, who are unable to stop gambling, and whose gambling continues despite serious negative impacts on their finances and family.
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