Problem Gambling


Gambling is an activity where someone wagers something of value, such as money or possessions, on an event that is not under their control and the outcome is determined by chance. It includes betting on sports events such as football accumulators or horse races. It also includes games of chance such as lotteries, instant scratch cards, and raffles. However, it does not include bona fide business transactions such as buying goods and services at a future date or selling at a discounted price.

Problem gambling can be found among people from all backgrounds and walks of life. It affects men and women, young and old, those of different races and religions and those from small towns or large cities. It can harm a person’s physical and mental health, relationships, work and study performance and lead to serious debt and even homelessness. Some individuals with an untreated problem may attempt suicide as a way out of their suffering.

The cause of problem gambling is complex and not fully understood, but it involves a number of factors. One is impulsivity. People with impulsive tendencies are more likely to engage in risky activities, such as gambling. Another factor is a lack of self-control. A lack of self-control is associated with problems such as substance use disorders and emotional dysregulation, which can be related to gambling.

Lastly, individuals who gamble often have an unrealistic sense of their own abilities and the likelihood of winning. They also tend to think that they are good at gambling and can make money quickly, without thinking about the risks involved. This is called a ‘reality distortion’.

It is important to recognise when a gambling habit has gone too far. Some warning signs include hiding or lying about your gambling, borrowing money to cover your losses and spending more time gambling than you intended to. You should also avoid gambling when you are depressed or upset. Gambling can be addictive and take the place of other healthy activities, such as family, friends, work, and hobbies.

Gambling is a popular leisure activity for many, but it can be problematic for some. It can be difficult to know when your gambling is causing harm, especially if it has become a regular habit. It is important to make a budget for your gambling, and not to spend more than you can afford to lose. Also, try to limit your gambling to a specific amount of time and make sure you are not gambling with money that you need for other essentials such as food or rent. It is also important to remember that you are more likely to lose than win, so expect to lose some of your money and don’t chase your losses. If you are unable to stop gambling, seek help from an organisation that offers support, advice and counselling for people with problems related to gambling. You can also get support from your GP, family or friends. You can find support near you by using the Gambling UK website.