The Dangers and Benefits of Gambling


Gambling is putting something of value, such as money or a possession, on an event that has a chance of happening. The event may be a football match, a lottery draw or a scratchcard. The amount won if the gambler wins depends on the odds, which are calculated by the betting company. The higher the odds, the more likely a bet is to be successful.

Gambling can cause emotional and social problems. People with mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, are more at risk of developing gambling problems. They may become impulsive and lose control over their spending, borrowing or gambling habits. Gambling can also cause relationships to break down. For example, if someone lies to their family about where their money is spent or misses events with them to gamble, it can create tension and distance in the relationship.

Many people find relief from unpleasant feelings through gambling, such as boredom, loneliness or stress. However, gambling can only provide a temporary high. The euphoria experienced when winning is followed by the devastation of losing, which can lead to feelings of despair and depression. This can be exacerbated by the fact that gambling is often done to escape from other problems, such as debt or addictions.

In addition to the financial costs of gambling (losing bets and the opportunity cost of time spent on gambling), there are social costs associated with it. People may experience feelings of guilt or shame about their gambling behaviour, especially if it leads to problems in their work or home life. In extreme cases, it can even lead to suicidal thoughts.

The benefits of gambling include the potential for economic development and revenue generation. For example, a new casino or racetrack can bring jobs and revenue to a community. In addition, the gambling industry provides a source of entertainment for players, who may be able to spend time with friends or make new friendships.

But it is important to recognise the harms of gambling as well as the positive aspects. Those who are at risk of developing a problem should seek help or advice, such as from an organisation like StepChange or a GP. If you know someone with a gambling problem, try to talk to them about it and offer support. You could also consider taking over the management of your loved one’s finances to ensure they are not at risk of relapsing. Learning to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques, can help to replace the urge to gamble. This can also prevent relapse. It’s important to remember that a gambling problem is not easy to overcome, but it is possible with the right support. This content mentions suicide or self-harm, so please read carefully and seek help if needed. For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please contact 999 or go to A&E immediately.