Various mental health professionals have developed criteria for diagnosing problem gambling. Most use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM includes Gambling Disorder along with other addictive behaviors. The criteria for Gambling Disorder are the following: the person has repeatedly tried to control their gambling behavior but failed to do so. The person has a history of problem gambling, including episodes of depression or anxiety, and has a high level of suicidal ideation.
The effects of compulsive gambling vary between men and women. Women tend to become more prone to the compulsion than men. Although the two genders are roughly equal in their chances of developing gambling problems, certain factors can increase the risk of becoming addicted. Genetics, family history, medications used to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, and personality traits all increase the risk of compulsive behavior. Gambling addiction can have serious consequences for an individual’s life.
The problem gambling rate is higher among college-aged men than among older populations. This could be the result of broader developmental issues. Researchers in the British Gambling Prevalence Study (BGP) have reported higher rates of problem gambling among college-aged men compared with the older population. Problem gambling rates in college-aged women were 1.3% versus 0.2% for people aged 65-74. Further research is needed to determine if university-based gambling environments pose any additional risks to gambling.