Gambling is an activity in which you bet on something with the hope of winning a prize. You can bet on sports events, such as football matches and horse races, or games like lottery and scratchcards. The first step in gambling is choosing what to bet on, which involves selecting a particular outcome from a list of possible outcomes – the odds – that are set by the betting company.
The brain releases dopamine in anticipation of a potential reward, and this is likely to play a role in the addictive nature of gambling. In addition, people are often drawn to gambling because they find it entertaining and socially acceptable.
There are several ways to reduce your gambler’s urges and prevent a gambling problem, including taking up healthier hobbies, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. You could also seek professional help, such as from a psychologist. The biggest hurdle to overcome is admitting that you have a gambling problem, which can be hard if it has cost you money and strained your relationships.
Research on the impacts of gambling has focused mainly on examining its financial costs and benefits at the individual level (see Fig. 1). Interpersonal and community/society-level effects, however, have received less attention. This is largely due to methodological challenges, as well as the fact that they are harder to quantify. Nevertheless, filling these gaps is crucial for developing a common methodology to assess the impacts of gambling.