Gambling is a recreational activity that involves wagering something of value on an event with the intention of winning something else of value, usually money. It is similar to insurance, which involves transferring risk from one party to another in exchange for a premium. Insurance is based on probability, while gambling is largely influenced by the emotions and motivations of individuals.
Negative impacts of gambling have been observed at the individual, interpersonal and community/society levels. These can create a change in an individual’s life course and even pass between generations [1, 2]. At the community/society level, gambling generates costs and benefits for those who do not gamble themselves, for example, the effects of increased debt and financial strain on family members. It also generates tax revenue for governments, which can be partly directed toward beneficial causes.
Personality traits and coexisting mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, can make people vulnerable to gambling problems. Biological factors, such as underactive brain reward systems, may also predispose some individuals to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. Cultural beliefs and social norms can also influence attitudes towards gambling activities and how people perceive problem-gambling behaviors.
People gamble for many reasons, including to relax, enjoy the adrenaline rush, socialise or escape from worries or stress. But if you gamble to the point where it negatively affects your finances, work or relationships, it is important to seek help. You can find support by reaching out to friends who don’t gamble, exercising or taking up a new hobby, or trying peer-support programs like Gamblers Anonymous.