Compulsive gambling affects both men and women, and it cuts across cultural, social and economic lines. Although most people who play cards or wager never develop a gambling problem, certain factors are more often associated with compulsive gamblers:

  • Other behavior or mood disorders. People who gamble compulsively often have substance abuse problems, mood or personality disorders, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many compulsive gamblers abuse alcohol, and many experience major depression.
  • Age. Compulsive gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people.
  • Sex. Compulsive gambling is more common in men than in women. Women who gamble typically start later in life, are more apt to have depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders, and may become addicted more quickly. But gambling patterns among men and women have become increasingly similar.
  • Family influence. If one of your parents had a gambling problem, the chances are greater that you will, too.
  • Medications used to treat Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome. Medications called dopamine agonists have a rare side effect that results in compulsive behaviors, including gambling, in some people.
  • Certain personality characteristics. Being highly competitive, a workaholic, restless or easily bored may increase your risk.
Feb. 12, 2014