While gambling is often seen as a fun activity, for some it can be more than just entertaining. A number of factors can lead to gambling addiction, including the way that chemical messages are sent in the brain, genetic and psychological predispositions, and a combination of environmental and social elements.

For those who are prone to addiction, it is much harder to control their impulses to throw the dice or pull the lever of a slot machine. They might have a tendency to lie about their spending, feel compelled to gamble in secret, or even think that they are going to win the lottery or get rich from gambling. Some people may also be hiding depression or other mood disorders that can cause compulsive gambling and make the problem worse.

Once an individual has started gambling, and experienced a few wins, they start building a tolerance to the dopamine-generating experience, meaning that it takes more of a ‘hit’ to achieve the same level of euphoria. This means that more money has to be spent to experience the same ‘high’, which in turn makes it more difficult to stop gambling.

One of the most effective ways to combat this is to seek professional help, such as family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counselling. It is also a good idea to strengthen support networks, and find new hobbies that don’t involve casinos or online gambling. Keeping to a set amount of money that you are prepared to lose is another important step, as is never using funds that are meant for other purposes.