Understanding Why You Gamble

Gambling involves betting something of value, usually money, on an uncertain outcome. It’s a popular pastime, and many people enjoy a flutter on the lotto, at the races, on sports events or on pokies. However, if gambling becomes problematic it can cause harm to the person who gambles and to their families and friends. It’s important to understand why you gamble so that you can change your behaviour if it is causing harm.

Studies have shown that people can develop harmful gambling behaviours because of a variety of factors, including their environment, community, and personal characteristics. These factors can lead to an increase in the chances of developing problem gambling behaviour and make it harder for people to stop. The best way to reduce your risk is to only gamble with an amount of money you can afford to lose, and not spend more than you can afford.

Another factor that can influence gambling is the human desire to feel in control. Often, people overestimate their chances of winning because they recall stories from the news or from friends about past experiences of luck. They may also be influenced by their behavioural predispositions, such as impulsivity.

The positive aspects of gambling include the entertainment value, social interaction and the pleasure from taking a risk. There are also some health and well-being benefits, such as the release of endorphins and adrenalin during a game. However, a more holistic approach to assessing the impact of gambling includes measuring the social costs and benefits. These can be measured using a ‘longitudinal’ design, where data is collected over an extended period of time.