What are the Different Types of Gamblers?

Feb 12, 2024

Just like not all addictions are the same, not all gamblers behave the same. Every individual has a different reason for gambling. It depends on their attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and desires. 

There are different types of gamblers. Learning the differences can help you become more aware of the underlying symptoms and seek the best course of treatment for yourself or a loved one. Here are the most common types of gamblers.

Behaviorally conditioned gamblers

Behaviorally conditioned gamblers play games for entertainment reasons. They’re similar to recreational gamblers. They only gamble to pass the time or to socialize with their friends. However, unlike recreational gamblers, they have a greater risk of developing a gambling problem. 

Behaviorally conditioned gamblers get a dopamine rush every time they gamble. They rely on those feelings to make them feel better about themselves or their situation. Their addictive habits compel them to make poor decisions while gambling or making important decisions. 

Their problem-solving skills decline because they attach these false beliefs of winning. Behaviorally conditioned gamblers also struggle with anxiety and depression because of their financial issues. They can benefit from medication, treatment, and therapy. 

Emotionally vulnerable gamblers

Emotionally vulnerable gamblers deal with anxiety, depression, emotional trauma, and negative life events that cause them to gamble. They might also have a history of gambling in their family. One common sign is poor problem-solving skills. 

Emotionally vulnerable gamblers gamble to escape from their negative thoughts and feelings. As part of their treatment plan, they uncover the underlying emotional issues that led them to gamble. This helps emotionally vulnerable gamblers become more aware of their triggers, so they can use healthy coping methods. 

Antisocial impulsivist gamblers

Antisocial impulsivist gambling is sometimes referred to as antisocial personality gambling. According to PubMed, these gamblers share biological and physiological characteristics that cause them to have compulsive gambling issues. Personality disorders are often linked with behavioral addictions like gambling. 

Symptoms include attention deficit disorder and impulsivity. Other behavioral signs include criminal and legal problems, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies. 

Antisocial impulsivist gamblers aren’t as engaged with their environment or with other people. They can also struggle with following a specific treatment plan. However, antisocial gamblers can recover with medication and outpatient treatment. 

Professional Gamblers vs. Amateur Gamblers

It’s important to know the difference between professional gamblers and amateur gamblers. Amateur gamblers are often misconstrued as recreational gamblers, most of whom don’t have a gambling problem. 

Professional gamblers

Professional gamblers are those who make a career from gambling. They use their decision-making skills and problem-solving strategies to win. They play games such as Blackjack, horse race betting, poker, and sports betting. Professional gamblers invest time, money, and effort to improve their skills and develop winning strategies. 

Professional gamblers are known for their keen instincts, patience, and self-control. They can determine the odds of a game and wait before placing their bets. They also developed a high level of frustration tolerance, which means anger and impulsivity would ruin their performance. 

Professional gamblers don’t have a gambling problem or addiction. The only time their professional gambling career becomes a serious addiction is when they experience reduced rational thinking and self-control. This causes them to experience more losses.  

Amateur gamblers

Amateur gamblers rely on luck. They don’t track their strategies and don’t hone in on their skills. Unlike professional gamblers, amateur gamblers lack discipline and self-control. They’re more likely to become problem gamblers. Even if they don’t take the game seriously, they still spend more time and money on it than on other activities. 

Amateur gamblers are unaware of the consequences. Some are even in denial that they have a gambling problem. Their gambling becomes so addictive that it affects their personal lives and relationships with loved ones. Amateur gamblers should use a combination of self-control and therapy to treat their problem.  

Recreational gamblers

Recreational gamblers play purely for fun. They only take part in gambling recreationally or in a social situation. This activity is relaxing to them as it doesn’t impact their emotional well-being or financial situation. Recreational gamblers don’t rely on gambling to escape from their personal problems. 

They’re referred to as casual gamblers, as they approach gambling with a non-addictive attitude. They play to have fun, even if they don’t win. The most common types of amateur gambling are slot machines, lottery or scratch-off tickets, and Super Bowl bets. 

Problem gamblers

Problem gamblers suffer the consequences of their problem gambling. Still, it’s not severe enough to ruin their life. Problem gamblers might go through prolonged periods where they don’t need to gamble. This feeling makes it easier for them to hide their problem. 

You may recognize a problem gambler when they’re suddenly secretive. They also lie about their habits or activities. Problem gamblers make excuses for missing out on important events. They might overreact when questioned about their whereabouts. Problem gamblers should seek therapy or treatment before their gambling is out of control. 

Disordered gamblers

The American Psychiatric Association defines disordered gambling as a repetitive behavior that causes distress. Disordered gamblers lose control since their minds are consumed by gambling. They obsess and fixate on their next game and what strategy they will use. 

Disordered gamblers ponder their next win, so they can make up for a former loss or crumbling life situation. They could also face serious consequences such as criminal problems, financial struggles, job loss, or a fallout with their relationships. Disordered gamblers try to quit but fail. They need ongoing support and therapy, so they can fully recover and regain control of their lives. 

Relief and escape gamblers

Relief and escape gamblers turn to gambling to relieve stress and escape from their problems. Gambling relieves feelings of anger, boredom, emotional trauma, loneliness, stress, or other negative feelings. 

Common behaviors are disconnecting, excessive gambling, and making impulsive decisions that force them to face reality. Relief and escape gamblers lose games as a result of their poor decision-making. They experience more financial trouble and stress. In the long term, they’ll also develop an anxiety or depressive mood disorder, which can be treated with ongoing support, therapy, and medication. 

Compulsive-pathological gamblers

Compulsive-pathological gambling occurs when an individual lies about their compulsive gambling. According to MedLine Plus, the causes of compulsive gambling are legal issues, job losses, financial problems, and relationship issues. Financial problems and persistent stress can ramp up addictive behavior. Common symptoms include feeling restless or irritable, obsessively thinking about gambling, asking or borrowing money, and committing crimes to gamble. 

Compulsive-pathological gamblers often benefit from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), support groups like Gamblers Anonymous, and antidepressant medication to manage their depressive disorder. 

Lottery games

Lottery games are a common form of entertainment. It develops into a full-blown addiction when the individual ignores their responsibilities or goes into debt. Lottery games can be addicting since they release dopamine in the brain, similar to substance abuse and other behavioral disorders. 

Buying one lottery or scratch ticket doesn’t indicate the person has an addiction. Lottery games are only addictive if you increase the number of lottery tickets, need money to purchase tickets, neglect bills, and feel guilty after playing. It’s possible to recover from lottery game addiction with the adaptation of healthy habits, talk therapy, and medication.  

If you or someone you know is seeking help for gambling addiction, Birches Health can offer support. We offer safe and effective treatment with gambling addiction specialists. Contact Birches Health to get started on your journey today.  

Resources:

What Is Gambling Disorder?

Compulsive Gambling

Dopamine and Addiction

Impulsivity in Pathological Gambling: The Antisocial Impulsivist

The Relationship Between Gambling Disorder, Stressful Life Events, Gambling-Related Cognitive Distortions, Difficulty in Emotion Regulation, and Self-Control

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