It was once considered a moral failing. But the American Psychiatric Association classifies pathological gambling not as an addiction but as an "impulse control" disorder like pyromania.
To be considered pathological, a person must demonstrate five or more of these 10 characteristics:
1 Is preoccupied with gambling, reliving gambling experiences, or thinking of ways to get money to gamble.
2 Needs to gamble with a larger pot of money in order to achieve the desired level of excitement.
3 Tries repeatedly but fails to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
4 Becomes restless or irritable when attempting to scale back or stop gambling.
5 Gambles as a way to escape from family or work problems or to relieve a depressed or unhappy mood.
6 After losing money, often returns another day to get even.
7 Lies to family members, therapists, colleagues, or others to conceal the extent of the gambling habit.
8 Has committed illegal acts like forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling habit.
9 Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of the need to gamble.
10 Borrows money from friends, family, even strangers to pay off catastrophic debts from gambling.
This story appears in the May 23, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.