What is Gambling?

Risking money or valuables in hopes of winning more than you're risking is gambling.  Calling it a "friendly bet" or saying "We're just making the game a little more interesting," does not alter the fact that it is still gambling.  While most people handle recreation gambling in a controlled way, for many it can become an overwhelming addiction.  In recent years, gambling has become recognized as a national problem.  In particular, there has been a growing concern around gambling among youth and college students.

Types of Gamblers

The National Council on Problem Gambling recognizes six types of gamblers.  (1) Professional Gamblers make their living by gambling.  They are skilled in the games they play.  (2) Anti-social or criminal gamblers use gambling as a way to cheat or swindle others.  (3) Casual social gamblers gamble for recreation and excitement, with losses considered to be the cost of entertainment.  (4) Serious social gamblers invest more of their ego into gambling.  They usually consider gambling a form of entertainment but have less balance with meeting other responsibilities in their lives.  (5) Relief and escape gamblers gamble to find reprieve from  feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, boredom, or loneliness.  There is a binge aspect to their gambling.  (6) Compulsive gamblers are in the advanced stages of this disorder.  This results in loss of productive time and money.  It causes disruption of their personal lives, family relationships, and their school and vocational pursuits.


Existing surveys of individuals in treatment show high costs in terms of indebtedness, deteriorating relationships with family and friends, depression, and suicide attempts.  Specific family issues typically include emotional turmoil, stress-related illness, lack of financial support, neglect, and divorce.


Internet Gambling

Internet gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the country with thousands of people logging on to the Internet each day in hopes of winning money and having fun.  Websites try to lure us into playing by making promising claims, such as, "Play now and get a $200.00 bonus," and "Pay out percentages over 97.5%."  However, this type of gambling is certainly not without pitfalls.  Gambler's Anonymous have developed a survey of ten questions to help Internet gamers decide if their gaming is a problem. 


Some Facts about College Student Gambling

  1. At least 90% of college students make a bet each year.
  2. 30% to 45% of college students gamble on a weekly basis.
  3. About 10% to 15% of college gamblers will spend money earmarked for books or get into a financial problem.
  4. 5% will be in the compulsive stage and in the grip of illness without treatment.
  5. Problem/compulsive gamblers are disproportionately represented among:
                             a. Males
                             b. Fraternity/sorority members
                             c. Binge drinkers, alcoholics, drug abusers
                             d. Youth obsessed with video games

Why Do College Students Gamble?

  1. Students are not afraid to take risks.
  2. It's entertainment.
  3. The excitement of taking road trips to casinos.
  4. The promise of quick riches.
  5. Fascination with the stroke of luck.
  6. Natural adrenaline - induced high.
  7. Availability of easy credit.
  8. Accessibility of ATM machines.


Here is a self-test designed by Gambler's Anonymous.  Answer these 20 questions with a yes or no response.  Compulsive gamblers usually answer yes to at least seven of the 20 questions. 


  1. Do you lose time from work due to gambling?
  2. Does gambling make your home life unhappy?
  3. Does gambling affect your reputation?
  4. Do you ever feel remorse after gambling?
  5. Do you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Does gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win, do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Do you often gamble until your last dollar is gone?
  10. Do you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  11. Do you ever sell anything to finance gambling?
  12. Are you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
  13. Does gambling make you careless about the welfare of your family?
  14. Do you ever gamble longer than you planned?
  15. Do you ever gamble to escape worry or trouble?
  16. Do you ever commit, or consider committing, an illegal act to finance your gambling?
  17. Does gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  19. Do you have an urge to celebrate good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Do you ever consider self-destruction as a result of your gambling?


If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, please seek help.  Assistance is free and confidential. 


In West Virginia:                      1-800-GAMBLER

Outside West Virginia:             1-800-522-4700





If you need further information, please contact Psychological Counseling Services by telephone at 304-788-6976 or simply stop by the office located on the base floor of the Health Center.


References :

The National Council on Problem Gambling
Texas State University Counseling Center
Gamblers Anonymous International
Student Affairs Today