Pathological gambling and problem gambling affect approximately 1-3 % of adults, men more often than women. As legalized gambling has become more common, compulsive gambling has increased. To be diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, called pathological gambling disorder, the individual must exhibit at least four out nine behaviors, which include: gambling larger amounts than intended, irritability if unable to gamble, sacrificing important activities, attempts to win back loses at the same place, frequent preoccupation with gambling, increased betting to maintain interest, and reputed efforts to reduce or stop gambling. (USA Today, April 1999).
Robert ter, M.D , says that gambling happens in a three phase model, these phases include the winning phase, the losing phase, and the depression phase. The winning phase is when gamblers experience a big win or a series of wins that leaves them with unreasonable optimism that their winning will continue. This leads them to feel great excitement when gambling, and they begin increasing the amounts of their bets. Next comes phase two which is the losing phase this is when gamblers often begin bragging about wins they have had, start gambling alone, think more about gambling and borrow money legally or illegally. They start lying to family and friends and become more irritable, restless and withdrawn. Their home life becomes more unhappy, and they are unable to pay off debts. The gamblers begin to "chase" their losses, believing they must return as soon as possible to win back their losses. The final phase is called depression phase and this is when there is a marked increase in the time spent gambling. This is accompanied by remorse, blaming others and alienating family and friends. Eventually, the gamblers may engage in illegal acts to finance their gambling. They may experience hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and attempts, arrests, divorce, alcohol and/or other drug abuse, or an emotional breakdown.