It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of gambling – whether it’s a twinkly casino, a noisy football game or a quick spin on a slot machine. However, it’s important to remember that gambling is a form of addiction. And just like any other addiction, it can cause serious harm if you’re not careful.
Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome, where skill is not involved. It is practised in casinos, lotteries, online and in many other settings and is legal or illegal depending on the country you live in.
The first step in gambling is choosing what you want to gamble on – this could be a football team to win a match, or buying a scratchcard. Your choice is then matched to ‘odds’, which are set by betting companies (eg 5/1 or 2/1 on a scratchcard) and tell you how much money you could win.
Gambling can lead to a number of problems, including financial distress, emotional distress and substance abuse. If you or a loved one have issues with gambling, seek help. There are a range of treatment options available, including individual and family therapy, group support, cognitive behavioural therapy and peer-led programmes such as Gamblers Anonymous. Also, consider finding healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or taking up a new hobby. And never use money that you need to pay bills or rent on gambling activities, as this can often backfire.