Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, with awareness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of an uncertain event. This can include activities like buying a lottery ticket, placing bets on horse races, sports events or using the pokies at the casino. It can also be games of chance that involve skill, such as poker or blackjack, where a player’s knowledge may improve their chances of winning, or those involving the use of prediction, such as weather forecasting or political events.
Many people enjoy gambling for various reasons. It can be for social reasons, such as a group of friends getting together and gambling; it can be for mood change purposes, as the euphoria caused by the brain’s reward system is very appealing (Per Binde, 2013); or it can be to win money. However, it’s important to remember that gambling can lead to addiction for some people and it is not a healthy way to spend money.
The reason that people gamble is because they are influenced by the pleasure-seeking dimensions of impulse control: sensation- and novelty-seeking, arousal, and negative emotionality. A person who is impulsive will find it difficult to stop gambling once they’ve started because the desire for the arousal and positive emotions that come with the activity will be too strong, regardless of the consequences.
It’s also worth noting that gambling products are designed to keep people gambling, even if it’s costing them money, so it’s vital to make sure that you know how much you can afford to lose before you start playing. The best way to do this is to set a budget before you start playing and stick to it. This could mean putting your credit cards away, arranging for someone else to have access to your bank accounts, closing your online betting accounts or only carrying a small amount of cash with you when you go out.
Those who struggle with gambling should seek help and support. A therapist can work with you to help overcome your issues and rebuild your life. Often, the biggest hurdle to overcome is realizing that you have a problem and admitting it to yourself. But if you can do this, there are a number of services available to you, including family therapy, marriage and relationship counseling and financial or career guidance.
Whether you’re having a flutter at the casino or making bets on your favourite sports team, gambling is not a lucrative way to make money and it can be very addictive. But if you recognise that it’s causing harm to your family, health and relationships, then seeking help is the right thing to do. Get matched with a therapist today. It’s fast, easy and 100% free. You can have a session within 48 hours. It’s the first step to a new life. It takes strength and courage to recognise a gambling problem, but there are resources available to help.