Problem Gambling


While many people enjoy gambling and can responsibly manage their gambling activities, for some the excitement of risk and uncertainty is addictive. When gambling becomes problematic, people can lose control and gamble to the point of compromising their financial stability, personal relationships and health. A growing number of people with gambling problems need help and treatment to regain control.

Gambling can provide entertainment and socialization, as well as be a source of relaxation and stress relief. However, the enjoyment of gambling should not be mistaken for happiness and it is important to understand the difference between gambling as a hobby and gambling as a problem.

Longitudinal studies of gambling are rare, but understanding what leads to problem behaviors could help develop effective prevention and treatment strategies. This includes identifying the underlying causes of pathological gambling, which may differ across individuals. In addition, longitudinal studies may help clarify the changing nature of gambling behavior over time, such as whether it is influenced by age or period effects.

It is a complicated issue because some communities consider gambling as a common pastime, which can make it difficult to recognize when someone has a problem. Moreover, those who benefit from gambling often promote it and lobby to keep it legal. For example, elected leaders and bureaucrats who are promised gambling revenue will support it to attract tourism. The community must weigh the benefits and costs of a gambling industry to decide what is best for it.