The overwhelming urge to gamble could be partly motivated by the need to release tension, not to win easy money, according to latest research.
New Zealand psychologist Dave Clarke collected data from nearly 150 students and found that a surprisingly high number turned out to be problem gamblers.
Approximately 17 per cent were in this category, far exceeding the percentage for their age group in the wider community.
Clarke said it was widely assumed that winning money is the most important factor for motivating a person to continue gambling. But for problem gamblers in the sample, seeking release from tension predominated.
He found problem gamblers in his sample group were likely to be depressed and impulsive.
They gambled to release tension and for excitement and also thought that their parents gambled too much. They wanted to feel important but were unsure of what they got out of their gambling.
Like most addictions, indulging in a pleasurable activity provides temporary relief that only reinforces the behaviour, said Clarke. Findings of his study have been published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.