While no one knows what causes ludomania, several factors could be behind the problem. Mental health concerns, like substance abuse, are possible causes. Others include the age when you began gambling and the size of your first wins. Even though there are no specific causes, experts have identified a few possibilities.
Gambling disorder shares several characteristics with other forms of addiction, explaining why it's so common. Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that when people gamble and win, their brains react the same way as receiving a cocaine dose.
When a person has a gambling addiction, the insula, part of the brain that controls autonomic functions, may become overactive. This overactive area of the brain may cause distorted thinking. In most cases, this leads people to see patterns in random sequences and continue to gamble after near misses.
People’s brains may react to gambling in the same way that an alcoholic's brain reacts to alcohol. The more they feed their addiction, the worse it will get.
Mindset and emotional dispositions often play a crucial role in whether or not gambling becomes a problem. For example, many people believe that the so-called gambler's fallacy provides a rational basis for compulsive gambling habits. The gambler's fallacy is the idea that a series of unrelated events can lead to other events even though it’s just a coincidence.
From a logical standpoint, if you throw a coin three times and each time lands on tails, the probability of the next flip being the head is still 50%. In other words, the coin's outcome remains fair and constant. However, from the viewpoint of the gambler, the coin is more likely to land on heads in other flips. This is based on their judgement that past results were tails. Even though this has no scientific basis, it provides a premise that encourages gamblers to throw in further attempts, believing that their fortune must soon change. This may result in heavy losses.
Another probable cause of gambling addiction can be the societal influence. Frequent association with friends or family members who suffer from a gambling problem can increase individuals' chance of ending up with ludomania. Another well-identified social trigger for ludomania is stress. Prolonged periods of exposure to stress can increase gambling frequency and worsen its intensity. Stress or difficulties in one's personal or professional life may serve as a trigger for someone with a gambling problem.
In addition, ludomania can also result from long periods of social isolation or the inability to leave the house. During the pandemic lockdowns, online gambling rates soared at an alarming rate compared to pre-lockdown, with studies reporting regular gamblers were more likely to increase their gambling rates by sixfold.
Additionally, several risk factors contribute to the development of a gambling problem. Individuals with alcohol or drug addictions have a greater tendency for compulsive gambling. Numerous psychological disorders, including personality disorders, depressive disorders, and anxiety disorders, are also risk factors for gambling addiction.