Diagnosis

In general, pathological gambling is most easily recognized in men. This seems to be due to the fact that, for various social reasons, horse-race and greyhound-race betting and gaming are more frequently patronized by men. These types of gambling have a high turnover of money and therefore the consequences of excess become evident more quickly.

Women are more likely to gamble on lotteries, bingo, and football pools. These may not involve such large sums of money. When excess occurs, the presentation is much more subtle with disturbances in the social sphere rather than through the accumulation of large debts. However, the situation has changed considerably in recent years with the vast increase of interest in lotteries in various parts of the world.

While pathological gambling is seen at all ages, an increasing number of children and young people are presenting with difficulties as a result of excessive gambling.

This is in spite of the fact that most jurisdictions treat gambling as an adult activity and those under the age of 18 years tend to be prohibited from taking part. In the 1980s, excessive gambling among children and young people was largely seen in the setting of fruit/slot machine gambling. This has often been available to children on the dubious pretext that it is an 'amusement with prizes' rather than gambling, which it clearly is. Since the appearance of various national and state lotteries, and their ready availability in public places, heavy gambling on these by children and young people has occurred. Many, who have gambled heavily in childhood and adolescence, have subsequently gone on to pathological gambling in adulthood.

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