Gambling Addiction Gambling is any activity that involves payment, risk, and prize. It may come in a thousand different packages, it may claim to be for a worthy cause, but it remains an activity designed to take the money of many and place it in the hands of a few. In addition, just because something is legal does not make it moral or harmless. Gamblers no longer need to trek to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to find the action they crave. It is available today in their own hometowns. Legalized gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Robert L. Cluster, M.D., has identified the progression of gambling addiction as including three phases: the winning phase, the losing phase, and thedesperation phase. During the winning phase, gamblers experience a big win or a series of wins that leaves them with unreasonable optimism that their winning will continue. This leads them to feel great excitement when gambling, and they begin increasing the amounts of their bets. During the losing phase, the gamblers often begin bragging about wins they have had, start gambling alone, think more about gambling,and start borrowing money legally or illegally. They start lying to their family and friends and become more irritable, restless, and withdrawn. The gamblers begin to “chase” their losses, believing they must return as soon as possible to win back their losses. During the desperation phase, there is a marked increase in the time spent gambling. This is usually accompanied by remorse, blaming others, andalienating family and friends. Most often, they experience hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and attempts, arrests, divorce, alcohol or drug abuse, or an emotional breakdown.