Gambling involves betting money or material valuables on an uncertain outcome, such as the roll of a dice, the spin of a roulette wheel or the result of a horse race. Historically, it has had a negative reputation, but in modern times many people enjoy gambling as a form of recreation and many casinos are open to visitors from all over the world.
However, it is important to be aware of the potential harms associated with gambling and how it can affect our mental health. People who suffer from gambling addiction can struggle to make healthy choices and may end up putting themselves at risk in various ways, including financial ruin, debt, depression, poor work performance and strained relationships. In addition, the symptoms of gambling addiction are similar to those of other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
The majority of gambling research has focused on psychological models of individual behaviour, addiction and ‘rational’ action, with only a nascent corpus of socio-cultural approaches emerging. As a result, harm reduction strategies need to consider the role of social contexts and the wider commercial, regulatory and cultural environment in shaping and influencing gambling behaviour.
Gambling is heavily marketed and makes use of appeals to a range of socio-cultural constructs, such as rituals, mateship, winning and success, social status, adventure and hedonism. These constructs lend themselves well to the practice theory framework, and it is therefore vital that gambling researchers engage with this notion of ‘gambling as a social practice’ in their research if they are to address the harms arising from this activity.
It is easy to get caught up in the thrill of gambling and forget that it is not a way to make money, but it’s important to set limits and stick to them. Never gamble with money that needs to be spent on essentials like rent, bills or food, and only play with money you can afford to lose. It is also a good idea to set an alarm so that you know when it’s time to stop.
You should also try to avoid spending too much time at casinos, as they are designed to trap you and make you spend more than you intend to. Often casinos don’t have windows or clocks, and it can be very easy to lose track of the time and keep gambling for longer than you intended. Always be sure to tip your dealer and don’t take advantage of free cocktails (tip them $1-$5 per drink, but only with chips, not cash).
It takes courage to admit you have a gambling problem, especially if it has cost you your livelihood or damaged your relationships. But there is help out there, and by seeking support you can turn things around. To speak to a professional, visit BetterHelp for a free assessment and get matched with an experienced therapist in 48 hours. They can help with addiction, anxiety, depression, relationships and more.