It may be difficult for those who have little or no interest in gambling to understand why some people develop a gambling disorder. The same principle may apply to a person who is able to drink alcohol sociably and in moderation compared to someone who drinks to a level that has negative consequences in other areas of their life.
Compulsive or disordered behaviour, whatever the severity, comes from the need of a person to replicate a feeling that is desirable to them. This can take the form of a relationship with a substance or an experience which over time can become increasingly habitual and relied on, however harmful the consequences.
Disordered gamblers have described different emotions they seek from gambling. For some it is pure excitement and the contrast of risk versus potentially winning, whilst for others it is a detachment from their surroundings and being part of a game.
Regardless of the motivating factor, it is the feeling or emotion which is pursued, and in many cases money becomes immaterial to their experience. However, the risks are very much material as it is real money and loss which ultimately sustains the feeling.
For many, a gambling disorder may have its roots in adolescence or as a young adult but for others it becomes an issue later. Generally, a gambling disorder will develop over time but with the pace at which technology is advancing and the onslaught of gambling-related media and advertising, we are looking at an epidemic of disordered gambling of which society has never seen.