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Problem Gambling & Gaming

What is Problem Gambling?

The National Council on Problem Gambling defines Problem Gambling as “all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.”

Often recognized by the term ‘Gambling Disorder’, and previously known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, this issue was first recognized as an ‘Impulse Control Disorder’ by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 as a result of the pioneering work of Robert Custer M.D.

Gambling Disorder is now classified in the “Addiction and Related Disorders” category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association. This disorder is identified as a persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior that has lead to clinically significant impairment or distress.

What is a Gaming Disorder?

The World Health Organization defines Gaming Disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” In order for gaming behavior to be characterized as a disorder, it must “result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning…for at least 12 months.”

About Teens and Technology

Online gaming, use of social media and gambling have the same effect on the brain as drugs and alcohol. Teens, as digital natives, are the most voracious consumers of technology and because their brains are still young and malleable, teens are more vulnerable to the negative impacts than adults. In order to support and assist youth in responsible use of technology, it is imperative that parents and professionals understand the brain mechanisms that make gaming and social media so seductive to youth. Read more about teens and technology.

March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Click here to read about how COCA draws awareness to problem gambling during March.

Click here to read about March Madness and gambling.


Have a problem with gambling?

These questions are provided to help the individual decide if they are a compulsive gambler and wants to stop gambling

Take The Assessment

What is the Lottery Holiday Campaign?

The Lottery Holiday Campaign encourages parents and loved ones not to give lottery products as holiday gifts to minors. Research shows that the majority of adolescents gamble at least occasionally, and that lottery products be a gateway to problem gambling. Youth gambling has been shown to be linked to other risk-taking and addictive behaviors such as smoking, drinking and drug use. Read more 

What is the Pennsylvania Self-Exclusion Program?

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (https://gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov/) sponsors the Self-Exclusion Program designed to allow a person to request to be banned from all legalized gaming activities and to be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses or accepting complimentary gifts or services or any other thing of value at any licensed facility. Self-exclusion only applies to the gaming floor of the licensed gaming facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.