What is Gambling?

Gambling is an activity that involves wagering money or something of value, with the intention of winning additional money or material goods. The gambler must be aware that there is an element of risk and the result may be determined by chance. It is a common recreational activity, and can take many forms. Some examples include playing card games, board games, betting on sports events, or purchasing lottery tickets. Some forms of gambling are legal, while others are not.

While some people do not have a problem with gambling, there are those who can become addicted to the activity. It is important to recognize the signs of a gambling addiction and seek help if you suspect that you are struggling with this issue. There are a variety of treatments available for gambling disorders, including family therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, and medications.

Research into the psychological and social impacts of gambling is most effective when it utilizes a longitudinal design. This method allows researchers to identify factors that moderate and exacerbate an individual’s gambling behavior, and to infer causality. Longitudinal studies also provide a more comprehensive view of an individual’s gambling history, which is useful for diagnosis and treatment purposes.

The current standard diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling includes: (1) damage or disruption; (2) loss of control; (3) dependence; (4) preoccupation; and (5) negative consequences. The American Psychiatric Association’s decision to expand the criteria for gambling disorder is based on new scientific knowledge of the neurobiology of gambling, which supports the theory that some individuals are genetically predisposed to developing an addiction to gambling.

A person with a gambling disorder often experiences one or more of these symptoms: (1) a desire to gamble despite damage or other negative consequences; (2) losing money in gambling and then returning another day to try to make up for the loss (“chasing” losses); (3) lying to family members, friends, or therapists about their level of involvement in gambling; (4) jeopardizing a relationship, job, educational or career opportunity, or legal status because of gambling; and/or (5) engaging in illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, embezzlement, theft, or robbery to finance gambling activities. Some individuals with a gambling disorder are also unable to control their spending on other activities, such as alcohol or drugs.

There is a link between gambling problems and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. These conditions can both trigger gambling disorders and be made worse by them. It is important to address any underlying mood disorders in order to reduce the likelihood of gambling problems.

If you are concerned that you might be suffering from a gambling disorder, contact StepChange for free debt advice. They can match you with a vetted, professional therapist within 48 hours. There is a strong link between gambling problems and financial crisis, so it’s important to get the help you need as soon as possible. They can also offer support with any other debts you might be struggling with.