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What is gambling disorder?

Gambling disorder appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) under the classification "Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders." This reflects research and clinical experience that have found similarities between gambling and substance use disorders. "Gambling disorder" replaces the term "pathological gambling" used in earlier versions of the DSM.

DSM-5 diagnostic criteria: Gambling disorder

A. Persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behaviour leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as indicated by the individual exhibiting four (or more) of the following in a 12-month period:

  1. Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
  2. Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
  3. Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
  4. Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
  5. Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
  6. After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even ("chasing" one's losses).
  7. Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
  8. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
  9. Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

B. The gambling behaviour is not better explained by a manic episode.

For more information about the DSM criteria, visit the PGIO site.