Cheryl Wetzstein’s recent article (“Psychiatrists Mull New Sex Disorders,” March 2) sheds light on a variety of important proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), including the reclassification of pathological gambling as a behavioral addiction.
It is clear, however, that the gaming opponent Ms. Wetzstein interviewed is misinformed about the gaming industry’s stance on gambling disorders and substantial contributions to the field of gambling research. Our support has enabled leading scientists to investigate the nature and prevalence of gambling disorders, which in turn has led to a greater understanding of the disorders among researchers, treatment providers and the public. In many cases, changes to the DSM classification of gambling disorders are happening because of research funded by the industry, not in spite of it.
Our industry never has contended that pathological gambling is a personal weakness. Rather, we have relied on the findings from independent, peer-reviewed research when discussing this issue, and the latest research indicates that all addictive behaviors – not just gambling, but alcohol and substance abuse as well – are part of a larger addiction syndrome. As such, individuals afflicted with addiction tend share certain neurobiological and genetic factors that may predispose them to the condition.
Research also has taught us that “things” – such as food, the Internet or even slot machines – are not inherently addictive. Instead, addiction is understood in the research community as the relationship between a vulnerable person and the object of his or her addiction.
The proposed changes to the DSM classification of gambling disorders in no way conflict with our industry’s perspective on this important issue. On the contrary, it is evidence of the great strides made during recent years in the field of gambling research – strides our industry has been proud to support.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President and CEO
American Gaming Association