Gambling is an activity where people risk something of value (money, property or possessions) on the outcome of a contest of chance or on a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence. This does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, including contracts for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities and agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of chance, such as contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.
Gambling can have a wide range of negative impacts on the gambler and those close to them. These impacts can be both financial and emotional. The severity of these effects is likely to increase with the frequency and amount of gambling.
Those with mental health problems are more at risk of gambling related harm than others. They may gamble to feel better about themselves when depressed or as a way of distracting themselves from uncomfortable emotions or thoughts. Problem gambling can also cause a lot of stress in relationships, especially those of children and young adults. It’s important to seek help if you think you or someone you know is suffering from harmful gambling.
While it is possible to gamble responsibly and not experience harm, many people find it difficult to recognise when their gambling has a problem. This can lead them to minimise the problem, hide their gambling or even lie about it. This can have long term consequences for the gambler and their friends, family and community.
A range of treatments are available for people who have a gambling problem, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This helps to challenge beliefs around betting such as believing you’re more likely to win than you actually are or that certain rituals will bring you luck. It can also teach skills to help with self-control and avoiding triggers, such as managing emotions, increasing relaxation or controlling spending.
Having a strong support network is essential for those who are trying to overcome their addiction. This can be done by seeking out new social activities such as joining a sports team or book club, volunteering for a charity and by spending time with family. It can also be helpful to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modelled on Alcoholics Anonymous. In some cases, residential or inpatient treatment and rehab programmes can be beneficial for those with severe gambling addictions who need round the clock support.