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Vulnerability To Compulsive Gambling Is Partly Inherited

ve gamblers, Eisen and colleagues were unable to tease out all of the various influences and determine the exact genetic contributions for several gambling behaviors. But, they found that familial factors explained 62 percent of the behavior of those reporting four or more symptoms, the official definition of pathological gambling disorder.

"So we see that vulnerabilities to gambling behavior, even if not completely genetic, are certainly influenced by inherited factors and by early environmental influences," Eisen said.

Between one and three percent of the American population has major gambling problems, and many more people who don't meet the official criteria for pathological gambling have problems with gambling that adversely affect their lives and relationships.

That negative influence is becoming more apparent as gambling becomes more widely available. When placing a bet meant traveling to Las Vegas or dealing with a bookmaker, people with a genetic risk for compulsive gambling had fewer problems. Now, it's often a matter of heading to the nearest grocery store to buy a lottery ticket.

"It is becoming increasingly easy to gamble in the United States - particularly in the last 10 years or so - and problems with gambling are much more common now than they were previously," Eisen says. "Presumably that's because some of us are vulnerable to becoming gamblers because of our genes and/or experiences when we were very young. With our increased access to gambling, some of us develop problems."


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Contact: Jim Dryden
dryden@medicine.wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University in St. Louis
10-Nov-1998


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