Chapter 4
GAMBLERS Disturbed or Healthy?

NANCY ASHTON

THE psychology of gambling is a potentially important and interesting area of investigation for a number of reasons. First, gambling activities are widespread in this country and abroad; the increase in legalized forms such as state lotteries, jai alai, and casino gambling, as well as more use of illegal forms, shows how common is the pastime. As a set of behaviors important to many people's lives, it is worthy of study without even considering the additional influences, e.g., the serious effects on some individuals, families, and communities; though it may be true that only some "gamblers" have a gambling-related problem, their behavior may have severe effects on the lives of other people. The study of gambling also opens up more general questions of risk-taking, superstition, reaction to success and failure, and a host of intriguing questions.

Despite the fascinating possibilities, not much research has been conducted. The number of individuals who have published studies of gamblers is not great, and many hypotheses have not been studied. The few studies that exist need replication and extension. This state of affairs may have several explanations. Gamblers and gambling activity can be difficult to study. Much gambling activity is illegal, and even many legalized gambling centers go to great lengths to insure privacy for patrons and to discourage snooping psychologists. Most gamblers do not end up in therapists' offices; thus, many who gamble are not known as gamblers. Another problem is that there are many kinds of gambling activities, and one cannot generalize from betting on horses, taking part in football pools, playing blackjack, or playing slot machines to another form of gambling, or even to gambling in general. The personality

-53-

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Gambling Today
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • CONTRIBUTORS vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 The Impact of Casino Gambling on a Small Town the Case of Atlantic City 3
  • References 11
  • Chapter 2 Economic Aspects of Gambling 12
  • Introduction 12
  • Conclusion 26
  • Chapter 3 Illegal Gambling a Brief Review of Law Enforcement Problems 30
  • Introduction 30
  • Conclusions 50
  • References 51
  • Chapter 4 Gamblers Disturbed or Healthy? 53
  • Abstract 68
  • References 68
  • Chapter 5 Why People Gamble - A Behavioral Perspective 71
  • References 83
  • Chapter 6 Why People Gamble a Sociological Perspective 84
  • Abstract 103
  • References 103
  • Chapter 7 The Treatment of Compulsive Gamblers 106
  • References 114
  • Chapter 8 Gamblers Anonymous 115
  • Conclusion 122
  • Appendix 124
  • Chapter 9 Gambling a British Perspective 127
  • Introduction 127
  • Conclusion 141
  • References 142
  • Author Index 143
  • SUBJECT INDEX 147
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