Gambling is the wagering of something of value (the stakes) on an event with an uncertain outcome. The event may be as simple as a roll of the dice, a spin of the roulette wheel, or a horse race. The expectation of winning something else of value is the reward for the risk taken. Gambling also involves placing bets over extended periods of time, such as an entire sports season or a year’s worth of games.
Gambling can cause a variety of impacts on the gambler, their significant others and society/community. These impacts can be negative or positive. Negative impacts of gambling include financial, labor and health and well-being. Positive impacts of gambling include recreation and social activities.
The effects of gambling can be structuralized using a model where costs and benefits are categorized. Costs and benefits can be at the personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels. Personal impacts influence gamblers themselves while external impacts impact those that are not gamblers.
Various studies have shown that gambling is linked to a number of mental health issues. These include depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and stress. People with these conditions are more at risk of harmful gambling. This is because they are more likely to gamble to distract themselves, feel better about themselves or escape their worries and concerns. They can also hide their gambling activity from family and friends, downplay the harm of their behaviour or lie about it.
There are also some people who may not be able to stop gambling. This is because of certain factors, including genetic predisposition and a lack of ability to control impulses and manage risk. This can be exacerbated by the environment in which gambling is practised. For example, some communities view gambling as a normal pastime, which can make it difficult to recognize a problem and seek help.
Another reason why some people struggle to stop gambling is because their brains are programmed to seek rewards. When they do this, their bodies release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes them feel good. This is why it’s important to be aware of the triggers that make you want to gamble and only gamble with money you can afford to lose.
It’s also a good idea to only gamble for small amounts of time. This way, you won’t be tempted to chase your losses and end up doing shameful things to recover them. Finally, remember that gambling is not a substitute for other healthy hobbies and activities. If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s important to get support and advice as soon as possible. You can find help and support by speaking to an adviser at StepChange, or contact 999 in a crisis. For more information, visit the National Council on Problem Gambling.