Pathological Gambling

Pathological gambling describes gambling behavior which causes disruption to an individual psychologically, physically, socially or vocationally. People with pathological gambling are characterized by loss of control, an inability to stop engaging in gambling behavior, preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money with higher frequency, “chasing” losses, and restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop gambling regardless of the disruption and serious consequences of such behavior.

The common gambling activities for people in Hong Kong are horse racing, soccer betting, mahjong, Mark Six, gambling on cruise ships or in Macau casinos. In recent decades, there is an increasing tendency for people to become addicted to stock speculation and online gambling activities. People with pathological gambling need to increase their amount of gambling and end up with serious financial problems. They may convince family members and friends to lend them money, which adversely affects their family and social relationships. Pathological gambling causes stress for gamblers, as well as family members, with the risk of developing depression, anxiety and other stress related health problems, such as insomnia, and headache. Pathological gambling may remain hidden for a long period of time. Family members are usually shocked when they discover serious financial problems as a result of gambling.

The Causes of Pathological Gambling

There are multiple causes of pathological gambling including psychosocial, cognitive, physiological and cultural factors. For instance, some gamblers believe that gambling is the fastest way to make money or the only way to settle their debt. Some other gamblers may seek the excitement and gain confidence from winning. Some of them may lack other interests and life goals so they adopted gambling as their only life goal. In many cases, people with pathological gambling can resume a healthy and balanced life when they receive adequate treatment and have support from family and friends.

Diagnosis and treatment should be provided by professional practitioners. If you suspect yourself, your partner, your family member, or your friend having gambling problem, please call our hotline on 2827 1000.