Gambling is when someone risks money or something else of value to predict the outcome of a game involving chance, such as the lottery, casino games, or sports events. It includes activities where someone plays for fun or competitively, but it also encompasses activities that are purely recreational and not based on skill or knowledge (for example, scratchcards).
Gambling can have a positive or negative effect on people’s lives. In some cases, it can lead to problems such as addiction, which can affect a person’s ability to function in everyday life and may have a negative impact on family relationships. It can also cause financial difficulties and problems with work and education. People who have gambling problems often experience anxiety, depression and stress.
It is important to recognise the signs of gambling problems so that you can get help if needed. Some of the common signs of a problem include:
The main risk associated with gambling is that it can lead to addiction, which can have serious consequences for your health and wellbeing. People who develop an addiction to gambling may be unable to control their urges and find it difficult to stop. They may spend large amounts of time and money gambling, which can cause debts, bankruptcies, or other financial problems. They may be secretive about their gambling and hide money or other items from family members. They may lie to cover up their gambling and be dishonest with friends and therapists. They may also spend a lot of time thinking about gambling and become restless and irritable when they try to cut down or stop.
In some cases, people develop a pathological gambling disorder (PG), which is a mental illness that causes persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. PG is estimated to affect between 0.4% and 1.6% of Americans, and it usually begins in adolescence or young adulthood. PG is more prevalent among men than women, and it is more likely to occur when the person gambles on strategic or face-to-face games.
Some people are addicted to online gambling, especially speculative stock trading. It is important to seek help if you or a loved one has a problem with online gambling because it can have a serious impact on your quality of life. Getting help is easier than you might think. There are many organisations that can provide support and advice. They can help you deal with the practical and emotional aspects of your gambling problem and provide you with information on how to get help. They can also provide you with tips on how to change your behaviour and give you new skills to cope with your gambling problem. In addition to individual counselling, there are group and family therapy sessions available. You can also access financial and credit counselling. It is important to manage your finances and avoid using them to gamble. You should budget for your gambling expenses and set limits. If you are unsure how to do this, speak to a Better Health Channel counsellor.