Gambling is an interesting activity that many people enjoy every now and then. However, some people overdo it and tend to become problem gamblers. On the other hand, there is an entire group of people who like to call themselves professional gamblers.

Both types display a similar pattern of behavior when it comes to gambling — they spend much more time in a casino than casual gamblers.

What Is Problem Gambling?

First of all, let’s define what problem gambling actually is. According to psychologists, it is an urge to continue playing certain games based on luck even though there are harmful consequences. In other words, problem gamblers spend too much time and money on casino games, negatively affecting themselves and others. Problem gamblers often have difficulties putting a limit on how much money they spend, which results in additional financial trouble for them.

Although most people could become problem gamblers if they started to exaggerate when it comes to playing casino games, it is usually just a portion of people that develop this problem. One cannot help but wonder — why are some casino lovers more susceptible to becoming problem gamblers than others?

It is believed that chemical addiction is actually quite similar to problem gambling as both drug addicts and problem gamblers display similar symptoms. Furthermore, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism compulsive gamblers are usually low on norepinephrine — a chemical that is secreted when someone is stressed, aroused, or thrilled.

Problem gambling is a common problem that needs to be treated. Just like with substance abuse, there are less serious cases and more severe ones. However, almost all developed countries around the world offer professional help for this type of problem, including step-based programs, peer support, and more.

How to Spot a Problem Gambler?

Chances are that you have already met a problem gambler, but you did not pay attention unless they were a member of your family. Anyone can become a problem gambler since gambling exists in all spheres of our lives.

Problem gamblers usually never have any money in their bank accounts, as they mostly use it to play games. In some extreme cases, valuable household items may be missing because gamblers need to repay their debts. Furthermore, they are always short on money and borrow it even from their distant relatives and acquaintances, in addition to already owing money to a lot of people.

People who are problem gamblers often display signs of mood and behavior changes such as withdrawal from others, poor performance at work, agitation for no reason, and more. Furthermore, they often feel hopeless and depressed in addition to drastically changing their eating and sleeping habits, as well as sexual patterns.

In extreme cases, problem gamblers may display manipulative behavior, tricking others into giving them money. They often lie and threat in order to achieve their goal.

Difference Between Problem Gambling and Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling has many other names such as ludomania, compulsive gambling, gambling addiction, gambling disorder, and more. Although these terms pretty much mean the same in psychiatry, people usually consider gambling addiction a much more severe case of problem gambling.

There are two schools of thought that try to classify problem gambling and gambling addiction. Some scientists believe that problem gambling is a type of impulse control disorder, such as kleptomania, meaning that people cannot control their impulses. In other words, they don’t consider it an addiction.

However, the other school of thought, which is currently dominant, deems it an addictive disorder, as subjects often display identical behavioral patterns as people who are addicted to substances. The main reason for that is the subjects’ reward mechanism that gets activated both in the case of gambling and substance use. The mechanism is not part of impulse control disorder.

What Is Professional Gambling?

Although it sounds funny, professional gamblers do exist, and they sometimes earn a lot of money. However, they often only focus on games that require some skill, such as poker, daily fantasy sports, blackjack, sports betting, video poker, and more. Simply put, they try to use their skills while playing these games, minimizing the luck factor. For example, online poker players often make a living by playing this card game on the web.

Just like problem gamblers, professionals also spend a lot of time in casinos and poker rooms. So what’s the difference between the two? The answer to that question is quite straightforward — self-control.

Professional gamblers perfected controlling their impulses, thus knowing exactly when to stop their sessions and walk away in order to rethink their approach and strategy. On the other hand, problem gamblers often don’t think in terms of strategies and approaches, as the majority of their actions while playing games are impulsive and conducted without prior consideration.

Can You Make a Living by Gambling?

The majority of casino game lovers are casual gamblers who don’t become addicted or turn pro. That is to say, many people who enjoy this type of entertainment stay in the middle, as they neither succumb to the addictiveness of casino games nor they turn into professional players.

If you want to go pro, that requires practicing strategies and other skills needed for mastering luck-based games as well as developing willpower and self-control. As soon as you decide to go pro, you start a pendulum ride that could easily swing back right into your face, and that is why self-control is important.


Playing online casino games is a very entertaining activity that could potentially make us millionaires. We all experience that adrenaline rush as we watch the reels or the roulette wheel spinning, hoping for the best.

Before entering a casino, we need to determine a limit and know when enough is enough. Sure, we might get carried away sometimes, but if that pattern starts repeating and you notice that you are losing a lot of money and cannot control your urge to play luck-based games, you should consider learning more about responsible gambling resources.