Whether it is buying a lotto ticket, placing bets on sports or using the pokies, gambling involves risking something valuable in exchange for the chance of winning more than you have put at stake. It can give a rush of excitement and euphoria when you win but it is important to understand the risks involved. Gambling can also harm physical and mental health, family and relationships, performance at work or study and lead to debt and homelessness. It is important to seek help if gambling becomes problematic.
While there is no single definition of problem gambling, the most common symptoms include a preoccupation with gambling, difficulty controlling the amount of money spent and a negative impact on family, friends, work or other activities. People with mental health problems may be particularly at risk of harmful gambling. If you or someone you know is concerned about their gambling, it can be helpful to talk with a friend or family member or contact the GamCare helpline for free and confidential support.
The first step is to set a time limit for how long you want to gamble and stick to it, whether you are winning or losing. It is easy to get caught up in the thrill of gambling and lose track of time. It is best to use an alarm or make a commitment to leave at the end of your designated time, even if you are still winning. It is also a good idea to budget your gambling and not spend more than you can afford to lose.