Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance and with the intention of winning something else of value. Examples include laying bets on horse and greyhound races, football accumulators and elections. Speculation on business, insurance or stock markets can also be considered gambling. Technology makes it possible to place bets on events that occur over time, such as online casino games, poker tournaments or football matches.
Research has shown that people who have a genetic predisposition towards sensation-seeking behaviour and impulsivity are at greater risk of developing a problem with gambling. However, a person’s environment and community may also have an impact on their risk of gambling disorder. For example, some communities consider gambling a normal pastime, which can make it difficult to recognise the problem and seek help.
Some people can gamble without a problem, but for others the activity becomes dangerous and can result in a range of negative effects. These effects can include emotional distress, financial loss, damaged relationships and even legal problems. In extreme cases, it can cause someone to commit illegal acts in order to fund their gambling activities, such as forgery, fraud and theft.
Gambling can be a fun way to spend your spare cash, but it’s important to set money and time limits for yourself. Only gamble with funds that you can afford to lose, and never chase your losses by thinking you’ll get lucky again soon (this is called “chasing” your losses).
People who have a gambling disorder are unable to control their gambling behaviour and it has a significant negative impact on their lives. They may experience severe problems at work, at home and in their social life, as well as experiencing feelings of anxiety, guilt and depression. Some people even find themselves reliant on family members or friends to provide them with money to fund their gambling addiction.
Many different types of therapy can be used to treat gambling disorders. Counselling can help individuals understand their problem and think about how it affects them, their family and their relationships. Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy can also be beneficial for some people with gambling disorders.
Medications are rarely prescribed to treat gambling disorder, but some people benefit from antidepressants and/or anxiety medications. However, it is important to realise that there are no medications available that can cure gambling disorder – the condition can only be treated through lifestyle changes and therapy.