Mental Health Professionals Want Gambling Addiction Listed in DSM-V

Gambling addiction may soon be listed as a "behavioral addiction" in the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM), the reference guide mental health professionals use to describe and diagnose mental illnesses, addictions, and diseases. The American Psychiatric Association is proposing the changes.

John W. Kindt, professor of business administration at the College of Business at the University of Illinois, called it a major development.

"Gambling interests have been financing so-called studies for many years," he said, "trying to ensure that this is not listed as an addiction,” he said, adding that in 1994 the American Medical Association passed a resolution that showed the medical cost of gambling addictions was $40 billion annually. That would amount to $200 to $300 billion in medical costs to taxpayers and insurance companies by today’s standards.

Representatives of the gambling industry are downplaying the changes in the DSM. Chad Hills, gambling analyst with Focus on the Family Action, said gambling proponents have tried to hide the importance of the change "for a long time."

"For the DSM to actually come out and classify it as such is going to make the industry have to dance a little bit," he said. "Manufacturers of gambling machines and casino operators may now have to assume greater responsibility for the damages their products cause."