The Dangers of Gambling

Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is primarily dependent on chance in the hope of winning a prize. It has existed in virtually every society since prerecorded history and is incorporated into many customs and rites of passage. While the popularity of gambling is widespread, it can lead to serious problems. Problem gamblers experience negative effects that may disrupt their personal and professional lives, and often resort to illegal acts in order to fund their habit.

Although there are many forms of gambling, the psychological processes involved remain similar. For example, the bettor chooses the outcome of an event (which can be as simple as selecting a specific football team to win a game or as complex as buying a scratchcard). The choice is then matched with a ‘odds’ or ‘chances’ set by the betting company that determine how much money you could potentially receive if successful.

Once a bet is placed, the event takes place and the outcome is decided by luck. It is not uncommon for people to lose more money than they originally invested, which can cause them to spend even more. This is known as ‘chasing losses’ and it is one of the key signs of a gambling addiction.

If you are concerned about a friend or family member’s gambling, encourage them to seek help. There are a number of organisations that provide support, assistance and counselling for those struggling with gambling disorder. They can help find alternative ways of relieving unpleasant feelings or socialising, such as exercising, joining a book club, volunteering for a cause or spending time with friends who don’t gamble. It is also a good idea to strengthen their support network, and consider taking control of the household finances to prevent them from being tempted by gambling.