Online Gaming Addiction Psychology: Symptoms, Causes, And Effects 

Michaela Bobulinski

 August 27, 2021

What Is Gaming Addiction?

Gaming addiction or Gaming disorder is a recent form of addiction that has emerged to be a condition that needs immediate attention. Gaming addiction has been causing harm to innumerable people in recent times, especially the online slots real money since they are easy and quick. Mental and physical stress can be witnessed, and some individuals cannot get rid of their obsessive gaming tendencies and need professional help. There is no medical unanimity regarding whether or not any form of gaming obsession can be considered a distinct disorder. Gaming addiction can be linked to a wide range of health conditions and mental health disorders and can affect personal relationships, social life, general well-being, and the life prospects of individuals.

As per reports by the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help, around 2.6% of the US population suffers from gambling issues which add up to around 10 million people.​​

Stages of Gaming Addiction

There is no proper categorization of gaming addiction, and no agreed list exists for the stages through which the condition might develop. Also, each case is unique in nature and might involve different games and gaming patterns. However, some basic stages might be:

  • Initial exposure to a game. A gamer might develop a fascination with gaming due to the early experiences that were financially beneficial and thrilling. Exclusion Softwares like BetBlocker, NetNanny, Gamban, etc., can block any Gambling Apps and websites from launching on mobile devices.
  • Deeper Interest. After the first few burst wins, gamers start taking a keen interest in gambling. Monetary investments towards gambling gradually increase.
  • Gradual Obsession. Gaming eventually begins to take control over an individual’s life. Their thoughts become directly towards gaming and similar activities.
  • Fully Developed Addiction. Gaming becomes the central attraction of a person. It develops to become the sole interest and a dominant part of one’s life. Credit Cards could be the biggest pitfall at this stage. Gamblers can run into unnatural debts when they start using credit cards to fund their gambling journey.

Despite many media stories of the negative aspects of gaming, addiction has become an inevitable part of the industry. It can be a harmless healthy activity only if one is aware of the severity of the condition and acts upon personal gaming tendencies.

Gambling Addiction

The rate of gambling addiction has globally risen over the years. In 2012, around 5.77 million people in the US had gambling problems that required treatment. According to a 2017 report by the UKGC, over 430,000 people in the UK suffer from gambling addiction, along with 2 million more being at risk. Gambling laws in the UK have multiple approaches. Countries like the UK have made all forms of online gambling regulated and legal, whereas France has a strict licensing process. The industry definitely tries to cope with the problem by introducing self-exclusion programs like Gamstop, but countless individuals find betting thrilling enough to be able to resist. Due to these harmful consequences, gambling disorder has become a major public health concern in many countries.

Problem gambling by age:

Ages 16-24 Ages 25-45 Above 45
Young adults access free casino games and provide the wrong age at times to access websites.

Approximately 1 out of 25 teens have a gambling disorder in the UK and the US.

Compulsive gambling is most common in this age group. Due to loneliness and isolation, this group is more vulnerable to gambling addiction.
Teens are introduced to gambling at this age group, and 60% of gamblers belong to this age group. This group sees compulsive gambling as a moral deficiency.

Gaming Addiction Triggers

Gaming and gambling can lead to a range of problems. It can range from abstinence through recreational gambling to gambling addiction. Gambling behavior cannot be controlled and can interfere with the workplace, finances, and relationships. At times, an individual is unable to identify his own problem. Over 80% of adults in the USA gamble on a yearly basis. Certain factors that can trigger a person are:

  • Traumatic experiences
  • Retirement
  • Stress in personal life and job
  • Emotional upheaval like loneliness, anxiety
  • Environmental factors like persuasion from friends and availability of opportunities

At times, gaming addiction also leads to drug and alcohol consumption due to a predisposition for addiction. The chances of developing a gambling addiction increase 23 fold for people inclined towards alcohol consumption.

Certain factors further increasing the risk for gaming addiction:

  • Personality disorders
  • Certain medications like dopamine agonists and antipsychotic medications often result in a higher chance of addiction
  • Other forms of addiction such as cocaine, meth, marijuana


Women tend to have a 31% more risk of developing a gambling addiction. For diagnosing a gaming addiction, a person must show or experience certain signs:

  • The need to gamble using more and more money for the excitement.
  • Crankiness while trying to quit gambling.
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop gambling.
  • Choosing to return to gambling even after repeated losses.
  • Lying for concealing Gambling activities.


Gaming addiction treatment can be split into three major types:

Therapies: This could refer to cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT and behavior therapy. It helps an individual to reduce the excessive gaming urge by systematically exposing them to their own behavior. It helps an individual to change the thought process about gambling.

Medications: Antidepressants and mood stabilizers are prescribed to reduce symptoms and illnesses that might be prominent due to gambling addiction. Certain medications also help to reduce the gambling urge.

Narcotic Antagonists are cases where certain drugs are used to counterattack and treat drug addictions. This might help some compulsive gamblers.

Self-help Groups and Exclusion schemes: For problem gamblers, many self-help groups exist where people can speak with others suffering from the same situation. UK casinos have mandated the use of the Gamstop self-exclusion scheme for casinos within the country. Such programs help gamblers to identify their problems and personally decide to act upon them.


Gambling is widespread and online gambling has developed increased accessibility. It also calls for appropriate legislation and awareness. Any gaming company providing services is also responsible for developing programs and policies to address gambling addictions. Prevention of gambling problems must always be encouraged. Any form of gambling activity might cause addiction. Be it slots, lotteries, bingo, dice games, sports betting, etc., each of them can become problematic and lead to consequences. However, types of games that provide a short time span between placing a bet and viewing the results develop a higher risk among punters due to the adrenaline rush.

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