Gambling involves placing something of value at risk on an event involving some element of chance, in order to win a prize. You can bet on a number, an animal, a sporting event, a dice roll, or the outcome of a lottery draw in the hope of winning a prize.
Gambling can be a lot of fun and it’s common for people to gamble in a social environment with friends, as well as by themselves. However, there are risks involved in gambling and it is important to be aware of the potential harms and how you can protect yourself.
Problem gambling is a serious issue that affects people from all backgrounds and can occur at any age. It can lead to severe financial problems and can cause damage to relationships, work and study. It can also have an impact on mental health. In some cases, it can even lead to suicide. It is estimated that around 10% of adults will experience a gambling problem at some point in their lives.
Psychiatrists and other professionals have developed criteria to help them identify when someone has a gambling problem. These are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to diagnose psychological disorders. Some of the signs that may indicate a problem include:
A desire to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve a desired level of excitement and the feeling that they have lost control of their gambling. Having repeated unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop gambling. Continuing to gamble despite losing significant amounts of money, or trying to get back the losses by gambling more. Often lying to conceal or minimise their gambling activity.
Many different factors can influence your tendency to gamble, including:
Genetics: Certain people have a gene that makes them predisposed to gambling, and the way in which their brain responds to rewards and risk. They may also be more prone to anxiety and impulsivity. Environment: The social, cultural and economic environments in which you live can influence your behaviours. Some communities may encourage gambling, and this can make it hard to recognise a problem.
Research shows that some people are more likely to develop a gambling problem, such as men and people who have experienced trauma or depression. It is also more common for problems to develop in adolescence than later on in life.
The best way to protect yourself from problematic gambling is to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and never borrow to gamble. It is also important to set time and money limits before you begin gambling, and to stick to them. Try to avoid gambling when you are depressed or upset, as this can make you more impulsive and less able to control your decisions. And don’t chase your losses, as the more you gamble to try and recoup your loss, the more likely you are to end up with bigger losses.