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    The Dark Side of the Industry: Gambling Addiction Illustrated by the Case of Great Britain
The Dark Side of the Industry: Gambling Addiction Illustrated by the Case of Great Britain

The Dark Side of the Industry: Gambling Addiction Illustrated by the Case of Great Britain

The thrill of watching racing horses or dogs at the hippodrome, attempting to predict the winner, calculating potential risks, and engaging in betting creates an atmosphere of celebration and pleasant excitement. For many individuals involved in the world of racing and betting, these activities form a significant part of their lives.

However, the flip side of the glamorous world of gambling and money is the scourge of addiction. When a person succumbs to gambling addiction and is unable to overcome it, their life begins to unravel, and they face severe consequences.

In the United Kingdom, the issue of gambling addiction and its aftermath is alarmingly serious. Statistics from the Gambling with Lives charity organization, established in 2018 by families whose relatives succumbed to suicide due to gambling addiction, highlight the gravity of the situation.

As per a report from the 'Office for Health Improvement & Disparities' published in January 2023, up to 496 suicides in Britain are directly linked to gambling. The number of adults grappling with gambling addiction in the country has soared to 1.44 million, and approximately 80,000 children are at risk of falling prey to this harmful addiction."

Stages of Degenerative Personality Changes Associated with Betting

Unnoticed and progressing through distinct stages, degenerative personality changes linked to betting can have severe consequences. Understanding these stages is crucial for recognizing potential issues and seeking timely intervention.

Pre-game Stage

At this initial phase, the person does not engage in gambling or does so infrequently. They become accustomed to the game, compare themselves with others, and fantasize about significant wins. Compulsive desires may surface, indicating potential excessive involvement. It is possible to disengage from the gambling activities at this point with relative ease.

According to the report 'Gambling behaviour in Great Britain in 2016' by the National Center for Social Research (NatCenSocial Research), 22% of those gambling more than once a week are at risk of developing gambling addiction.

Game Stage

The individual becomes a regular gamer, deriving excitement and pleasure from the activity. Finances are still under control, and they do not recognize any problems or dependency issues. This stage is characterized by habitual gaming as a ritual, akin to other daily activities. Individuals who linger in this phase for an extended period may develop a form of immunity, avoiding a tendency to become addicted.

Problem Stage

Negative consequences emerge as a result of careless play, impacting the individual's life. Uncontrolled spending of money, including borrowed funds, becomes a significant issue. The player may even gamble with money earmarked for other essential purposes. Despite recognizing the wrongdoing, the individual struggles to stop and continues to lose money in the hope of a positive change. Feelings of shame and self-blame intensify, but the compulsive behavior persists.

Kate Seselja, a former gambler and founder of The Hope Project, described her past situation in an interview with CNN, recounting instances of financial struggles and the impact on her life.

Photo: https://probolezny.ru/igromaniya/

Pathological Stage

Gambling becomes the primary existence for the person, surpassing the importance of family, friends, and work. Living without gambling feels impossible. The real world loses significance, and obligations hold no value. Individuals in this stage resort to illegal actions to obtain money, leading to the loss of property. Depression sets in, and thoughts of suicide may surface, necessitating immediate assistance from medical professionals and psychologists.

Kate Seselja shared her experience in overcoming addiction and rebuilding her life with the help of a psychologist. She emphasizes the crucial role of accepting assistance from others and rebuilding self-esteem for personal revival.

Understanding Gambling Addiction as a Recognized Mental Disorder

Gambling addiction is not indicative of a weak character, lack of upbringing, or knowledge deficit; rather, it is acknowledged as a disease. The fifth edition (DSM-5) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies problem gambling or gambling addiction as a mental disorder. While individual characteristics play a role, social factors significantly contribute to the development of this condition.

Research conducted by health scientists and published on the website of the US National Library of Medicine delves into the mechanisms occurring in the player's brain. The human brain has a structure known as the "pleasure center," activated during enjoyable activities like eating favorite foods or sharing a kiss with a loved one. In such instances, the neurotransmitter dopamine, often referred to as the “happiness hormone,” is released into the bloodstream.

Pathological gamers, however, exhibit an unusual dopamine response. This hormone is released not only when they win but also during the anticipation of winning. Over time, the anticipation of the game triggers an increasingly heightened release of dopamine, contributing to the pleasure associated with the process itself. Consequently, dependent players may struggle to genuinely rejoice in victories but experience overwhelming excitement in the presence of gambling stimuli.

Studies have demonstrated similar levels of dopamine release during wins in both healthy and addicted individuals. However, when facing losses, healthy individuals maintain normal dopamine levels, while addicted individuals experience an excessive surge, compelling them to chase losses persistently.

Further research revealed damage to the prefrontal cortex in the brains of pathological gamblers. This region, responsible for decision-making, planning, control, and self-control, exhibited decreased activity in addicted individuals compared to healthy subjects. Activation of these brain areas restored the ability to make correct decisions.

Photo: https://probolezny.ru/igromaniya/
Motivational interview

Addressing gambling addiction primarily involves psychotherapy, as there is no "magic" pill to alter brain biochemistry. Psychotherapy allows individuals to openly discuss their condition, receiving understanding and support from therapists and peers.

Recovering from gambling addiction requires genuine commitment, and individuals seeking recovery are strongly encouraged to explore self-exclusion programs and engage with Gamblers Anonymous. The support of family and friends plays a crucial role in the recovery journey, providing individuals with the strength to combat the disease when they feel understood and loved unconditionally. In some cases, antidepressants and mood stabilizers may be incorporated into the recovery process.

It is essential to recognize that individuals predisposed to addictive behavior can turn any attachment into a passion that may lead to suffering.


The issue of gambling addiction often arises from companies operating in shadowy 'gray' markets without adhering to responsible gaming guidelines. Operators bear the ethical responsibility to ensure that gambling remains a form of easy and enjoyable entertainment. It is incumbent upon them to establish maximum restrictions on the gaming process, especially for individuals demonstrating signs of addictive behavior.

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