Problem Gambling


Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value on an uncertain event with awareness of risk and in the hope of gain. It ranges from scratchcards and fruit machines to sophisticated casino gambling where skill can improve the odds of winning. Problem gambling can harm people and their families, and has a negative impact on society as a whole.

The understanding of the adverse consequences of excessive gambling has undergone a profound change. It is now recognised that gambling problems may have a psychological cause and are no different to other psychiatric disorders. This is similar to the way in which we now understand alcoholism as a psychological disorder rather than a physical disease.

While the majority of people who gamble do so for entertainment, there is a growing minority who experience gambling as problematic. This is when it is used to escape unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or loneliness, or for coping reasons, such as stress, anxiety and depression. People who suffer from these conditions often find it difficult to identify their problem and seek help for it.

Gambling can also be a useful way to learn skills, such as being more observant and mentally tasking the brain, as well as studying patterns and numbers. However, it is important to always play with a fixed amount of money that you are prepared to lose and never chase your losses. Doing so leads to the “gambler’s fallacy,” which is when you believe that you will soon get lucky again and recoup your loss.