Most people play for fun. For them, gambling remains an unproblematic pastime. A small group of professional (poker) gamblers try to earn some or all of their livelihood by gambling. You play a lot and regularly, but always maintain a controlled and distanced relationship to the game. Others, however, lose this distance. For them, gambling can increasingly develop into problems. They spend more and more time and money trying to make up for losses and increasingly lose control of their gambling behavior. The transition from unproblematic gambling behavior to risky, problematic or even pathological, ie pathological gambling (“gambling addiction”) is fluid and often goes unnoticed by gamblers.
With affected gamblers, gambling will at some point dominate their entire lifestyle and world of thought. Those affected neglect family and friends, social contacts and work. Due to the similar diagnostic criteria to substance-related addictions (for example to alcohol or drugs), pathological gambling is predominantly understood in specialist circles as a behavioral addiction and assigned to addiction disorders.
Since the beginning of 2001, pathological gambling has been recognized by health insurers and pension funds as a disease in need of rehabilitation and is therefore on an equal footing with other addictions, such as alcohol addiction. Therefore, the treatment of pathological gambling is paid for by the pension insurance or the health insurance.
Gambling-related problems are less noticeable to the outside world than other addictions due to the lack of physical cues (such as the smell of alcohol). However, those affected do show some signs that may indicate problems with gambling.
Note: These signs are not general, and even if the listed characteristics are present, gambling addiction does not necessarily have to be the cause.
For those affected, the following features from the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) * may indicate a gambling problem. Four or more criteria that are met already indicate an addiction disease; if criteria are less than that, depending on the severity, one speaks of risky or problematic gaming behavior:
In Germany, according to current studies, the number of people who display addictive behavior when gambling is between 134,000 and 416,000. If there are 103,000 to 345,000 additional people, existing problems with gambling are assumed.
However, the federal states can allow self-distribution and the brokerage of lotteries as well as the organization and brokerage of sports betting on the Internet under certain conditions.
According to the State Gambling Treaty, the organizers and brokers of public games of chance must provide the players with the information relevant to the game before they participate. To do this, they must provide information about the risk of addiction to the games of chance they offer, the prohibition on minors to participate, and the options for advice and therapy.
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