Problem Gambling


When you gamble, you put something of value (money or other items) on the outcome of a random event. This could be a football match, fruit machines or a scratchcard. Gambling is often based on the ‘odds’ which set out how much you might win if you make the right prediction. These odds are not always clear and can be misleading – especially on scratchcards.

Some people become addicted to gambling, and this can cause real problems affecting their finances, family and mental health. The intense thrill and anticipation associated with gambling may trigger a chemical response in the brain, leading to compulsive behaviour. Depending on their genetic predisposition and personality traits, some people are more likely to develop a gambling addiction than others.

Problem gambling is a complex issue, and it’s not always easy to recognise when your gambling habits are getting out of hand. Some people may try to hide their gambling activities from friends and family, or they might find ways to minimise the effects, such as lying about how much they spend.

In addition to the financial costs and benefits, there are social impacts – these are invisible individual costs that affect other people. These can be at a personal level, or at an interpersonal or community/society level and include general impacts, costs related to problem gambling and long-term costs. These are hard to measure and are often overlooked in gambling research, as they don’t easily fit into a mathematical model.