Prevalence

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Prevalence


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According to a variety of sources, the prevalence (i.e., extent of existing cases) of problem gambling is 2-3% and pathological gambling is 1% in the United States, though this may vary by country. By contrast, about 86% of Americans have gambled during their lives and 60% gamble in a given year. Interestingly, despite the widespread growth in gambling availability and the increase in lifetime gambling during that past 25 years, past year problem gambling has remained steady. Currently, there is little evidence on the incidence of problem gambling (i.e., new cases).

Available research seems to indicate that problem gambling is an internal tendency, and that problem gamblers will tend to risk money on whatever game is available, rather than a particular game being available inducing problem gambling in otherwise "normal" individuals. However, research also indicates that problem gamblers tend to risk money on fast-paced games. Thus a problem gambler is much more likely to lose a lot of money on poker or slot machines, where rounds end quickly and there is a constant temptation to play again or increase bets, as opposed to a state lottery where the gambler must wait until the next drawing to see results.

Dopamine agonists, in particular pramipexole (Mirapex), have been implicated in the development of compulsive gambling and other excessive behavior patterns (e.g., PMID 16009751).

Problem Gambling
Gambling is a form of entertainment for many people, but for some it can lead to addiction, and financial and emotional problems. This article looks at the risk factors for problem gambling and what can be done to help.

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