The Dangers of Gambling


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is at least partly determined by chance, with the intention of winning something else of value. This type of gambling is different from games that involve skill, where the outcome is largely determined by player’s decisions (such as video games).

In most countries, people can legally gamble in casinos and some other establishments, or play online. But despite its widespread popularity, gambling is not without risks. For some people, it can lead to serious problems that affect their work, family and health. Often, these people are not aware that they have a problem. But for those who do, it can be very difficult to stop.

The causes of harmful gambling behaviour are complex and can vary from person to person. They may be influenced by genetics, environment, coping styles, social learning and beliefs. A number of mental disorders can also increase an individual’s vulnerability to harmful gambling, including mood disorders and substance abuse.

For some, the desire to gamble can be driven by an urge that is similar to an addictive drug. This is called compulsive gambling, and it can be very difficult to control. It can cause people to spend their savings, run up debt and even steal to support the habit. It is important to seek treatment if you feel that you have a problem with gambling.

The definition of gambling has changed significantly over time. Historically, it has meant wagering money or possessions on events that are at least partly determined by chance, with the intent of winning. However, emerging technology has blurred the line to include a wide variety of activities.

Many young people gamble, but the proportion of youth who do so is lower than for adults. It’s common for younger people to gamble with friends or use their mobile phones to play games. This can be a way to pass the time and relieve boredom. However, the majority of underage gamblers do not visit casinos or buy lottery tickets.

A key factor is the social environment. Families, school friends and peer groups can influence a person’s perception of the acceptability of gambling, as well as their motivation to participate. This is particularly true when younger children are involved. In addition, the development of new gambling technologies has made it easier for people to gamble from home or on the move.

In addition to family therapy and financial management counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to address problematic gambling behaviour. CBT addresses the underlying beliefs that can drive betting behaviour, such as the belief that certain rituals will bring luck or that losses can be won back through betting more. It can also be used to manage depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions that are linked to gambling. If you’re worried about your or someone else’s gambling behaviour, speak to one of our counsellors for free and confidential advice. Our helplines are open 24/7.