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Problem Gambling – A Real Hurdle in the Path of Legal Online Gambling

Obsessive-compulsive gambling is something the majority of online gamblers will just shrug off, but it is indeed a real and serious problem, one that is among the hurdles that need to be overcome before online gambling can be legalized. Those who have experienced problem gambling will tell you that the problem is an intricate one, and it is extremely difficult to define and treat. Indeed, just like drinking, compulsive gambling is difficult to even recognize, and while the first step in the healing process is indeed the admission of the problem, in the case of problem gambling, there is no clear boundary over which problem gambling resides.

There are problem gambling self tests available out there, and one can use those to determine whether or not he/she should consider the possibility that he/she is a victim of compulsive gambling. With all its intricacies and menacingly deep secrets, problem gambling represents a great opportunity for researchers to study compulsive behavior. The reason is a simple one: alcohol or drug induced obsessive-compulsive behavior is chemically influenced, therefore researchers can never be sure how much of it is indeed chemical induced and how much is due to the mental processes of the victims. Compulsive gambling is pure compulsive behavior. There are no chemical triggers involved, everything happens inside the victim’s head.

Medical research has been undertaken – some of it sponsored by online gambling and poker operations – and conclusions showed that compulsive gambling is indeed a perfect example of a neurobiological addiction. Test subjects had their brains analyzed with MRI machines, which offered an insight into their neurobiological functions while gambling. Researchers knew how the intake of alcohol and various drugs stimulated an area of the brain responsible for the production of dopamine, a hormone tied to pleasure-induction and they were curious whether gambling would result in a similar release of dopamine. Indeed, MRI scans showed the same areas of the brain were stimulated in gamblers and the mechanism of dopamine release was similar to the pattern observed in chemical addiction.

Interestingly, gamblers’ brains released dopamine not only when they were winning, but also during the suspense preceding the stopping of the Wheel of Fortune. Another study proved the link between dopamine and compulsive behavior when patients given dopamine-stimulating medication developed compulsive-obsessive disorders which included problem gambling. All patients reverted to normal once the said medication was discontinued.

Problem gambling may also be brought about by the simple availability of casino games – and this is one of the major problems of the online gambling industry, since availability is touted as one of the biggest advantages of online casinos.

How can problem gambling be combated then? Medication is one option but a simple 12 step program may prove to be much more efficient. It would also help if online casinos could identify problem gamblers and restrict access for them, taking away the all-important factor of availability.

For online poker players, signing up for a rakeback deal is a must. Prop rakeback is much more generous than the regular kind.



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