The genetics of gambling and behavioral addictions

CNS Spectr. 2006 Dec;11(12):931-9. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900015121.


Behavioral addictions are considered as the repetitive occurrence of impulsive behaviors without consideration of their potential negative consequences. These addictions represent an increasing cost to society and are an important new field of research in psychiatric genetics. There has been a growing body of evidence on the familial aggregation and genetic influences on the development of behavioral addictions and mainly on pathological gambling. The aim of this article is to critically review findings of family and molecular genetic studies on behavioral addictions, focusing on pathological gambling and commenting on other disorders where appropriate. This review provides a comprehensive approach to genetic studies on behavioral addiction and points out the necessity of expanding the genetic research in this field. Future directions for genetic studies in this field are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Monoamine Oxidase / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / genetics
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Social Environment
  • Twin Studies as Topic


  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Monoamine Oxidase