Yes, gambling can be very addictive.
I remember my mother warning me when I was little. She told me my father gambled on anything (cards, horses, cocks, lottery, dice) and he even squandered a small fortune she had kept hidden for years: gold coins from the time Venezuela’s currency was so strong we had gold coins. The big ones were called “morocotas” and my father gambled and lost them on bets after he had lost all his money.
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The sad thing about gambling is that whatever little money you can make at some point, will be gone pretty soon and you’ll surely lose ten times more in no time. Thus, gambling works not despite the losses, but because of them. The more you lose (and the odds will always be against you) the more you’ll want to play/bet because after all the probabilities of winning after several losses are higher, right?
That is the logic of the gambler. Gambling appeals to that part of our brain in charge of terrible decisions and whether you call it a compulsion or disorder or an addiction, pathological gambling is hard to cure without professional help.
In Venezuela casinos are illegal and have disappeared from most of the country, but people find very creative ways to gamble. Recently animal lottery has become very popular. Six months ago there was at least one lottery center in every block. In some blocks there were as many as 3 different places where people could buy tickets for hourly draws. It was a crazy thing. People would spend most of the day just betting, waiting for the results and betting some more.
For a gambler the excitement and anticipation of winning, even when facing losses, stimulates them just like some drugs do. Like drug addicts, gamblers find it harder to quit the more they gamble. Restraining from gambling may cause the same kinds of anxiety, depression and even anger.
I think gambler is worse now that people do not even need to go to casinos. On the internet many forms of gambling have emerged and even some video games are partly gambling centers. Like smoking, I think that some brains are more prone to gambling than others. I have given gambling a try here and there, but I have been able to stop immediately. A friend once told me, if you are going to gamble, use only the amount of money you’ll not regret losing.
These days that amount is zero, so this crisis has been a great medicine for me. However, I see every day people who would rather gamble than buy food and then they borrow money to keep gambling so they can get home with something to eat. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out what are the odds they are eating well.