Gambling can be so addictive that Joshua Jones told his parents that once he had been lying on his bed shaking and trying to resist the urge to place a bet on his phone.

Its addictive nature is partly due to the way our brains are adapted to ensure our evolutionary survival.

Experts say gambling affects the primitive part of the brain that is geared towards immediate gains, and is adapted to cope in an environment where humans would get a big emotional reward for hunting an animal.

This reward comes in the form of the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain that makes us feel good.

Addictive substances such as alcohol, drugs and gambling feed this section of the brain, causing the production of this chemical.

Frequently using such substances causes the brain to become so flooded with dopamine that it eventually adapts by producing less and so also becomes less responsive to its effects. Thus the addict must engage even more in the behaviour to get the desired response.

When deprived of a dopamine producing stimulant for too long long individuals who are severely addicted can experience withdrawal symptoms, including feeling physically ill, not being able to sleep and shaking uncontrollably.

Gambling addiction is thought to run in families, as some people are genetically predisposed to prefer instant rewards.

It is often treated with cognitive-behaviour therapy, which helps to train addicts to resist unwanted thoughts and habits.