Sports betting addiction: a new profile in gambling

In recent times we have found a change in the pattern of addictions, with behavioral addictions becoming more frequent, that is, those that are not based on substance use, but on behaviors.

Specifically, with the emergence of new technologies and the fashion of sports betting, this type of gambling goes up steps in terms of frequency and severity in today’s society. Let’s see how addiction to sports betting is and what can be done against it.

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What is addiction to sports betting?

The profile of the ludopath has changed . Years ago we could associate it with the image of the person in the bar playing slot machines, currently, although this profile and this addiction are still valid, we are faced with a lower profile. Generally, a young male who either plays from home, betting from a mobile application or computer, or goes to specific game rooms to bet money.

We can observe how more and more salons of this type proliferate and there is more publicity and more applications that predispose to the online game, which does not facilitate the eradication of this pathology. All this adds to the fact that it is something quite normalized, which is not seen as problematic until the person has already entered a spiral from which it is difficult to leave.

Sometimes, this addiction is accompanied or by other types of addictions, such as cannabis or alcohol, or other problems, such as lack of social skills or low self-esteem, although it is true that it is not always this mode and there are exceptions.

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According to the DSM, pathological gambling or gambling may be diagnosed in a patient who shows persistent and maladaptive gambling behavior, as would be reflected in the presence of 4 or more of the following symptoms within a 12 month period, along with “Persistent and recurring problematic game behavior”:

  • There is a need to bet an increasing amount of money to be satisfied.
  • Nerves or irritability appear when trying to stop playing, or when you interrupt this practice.
  • It is hard for him to stop playing, and it takes several attempts in which he does not succeed.
  • He spends a lot of time thinking about the bets, either recalling plays, planning new ones or fantasizing that he wins a lot.
  • There is a tendency to bet more when you feel bad, either because you are sad or anxious.
  • After losing, feel the impulse to bet more to recover the lost.
  • He lies to others to hide his degree of involvement in bets.
  • Commit friends and family ties because of bets and their tendency to ask for money that they will not return.

What can I do if I have this problem?

Surely, everything started innocently, downloading an application and making a small bet , going to a game room to hang out … The problem usually occurs when you easily earn a certain amount of money, this generates great satisfaction, which we call positive reinforcement, which can help create and consolidate the false belief that you can control it and earn more money (control fallacy).

Each time you usually go betting more, there may be some day that you win, but the losses are much greater and the consequences, therefore, increasingly serious .

First, do not hide the problem and ask for help, getting out of this addiction alone is very complicated, you will need professional and socio-family help. Don’t be ashamed, these games are very addictive; Once you take the step of wanting to quit, you have already done the main thing to abandon this addiction, following some therapeutic guidelines and working with a psychologist, you can abandon this very problematic behavior.

What can I do if I know someone who has this problem?

Talk to him / her without blaming him, try to understand that he has a problem . If you do not want to assume it, you will most likely deny it, but it may be significant for him / her that someone around you has seen this problem and that it will generate a “ground” that can help you realize that something failure.

Do not normalize its behavior , that is, do not try to downplay it, to compare it with other types of addictions and minimizing this, since you can subtract motivation.

Offer your help to accompany him in his process ; for example, to search together for information on where to go, to accompany the psychologist, etc.

Also, let him express how he feels and don’t minimize what he tells you. It is important to be patient, it can be a complex and lengthy process, the important thing is that you remain by his side while he / she is walking the path of disabling.

In Mariva Psychologists , we work with these types of addictions both from the most cognitive level (control beliefs, false expectations, use of the game as an escape, underlying problems, guilt, low self-esteem, etc.) and at a behavioral level, that is, granting strategies that help change this behavior and prevent relapse.


by Abdullah Sam
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