Gambling is an activity where people risk money or something of value on an event that is based on chance, such as a football match or a scratchcard. If the outcome is positive, then the gambler wins money or other prizes. However, if the outcome is negative, the gambler loses money or other prized possessions. People gamble for fun and sometimes as a form of entertainment with friends. They can also do it to help them relax, relieve boredom and reduce stress. However, gambling can lead to addiction and has many negative effects on health and wellbeing. It is important to know how to recognize and avoid gambling.
Gambling affects individuals, families and communities in different ways. These impacts can be categorized into personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels (Fig. 1). Personal impacts are those that are experienced by the individual gambler and are mostly non-monetary in nature, while interpersonal and community/societal level external costs are generally monetary in nature and affect others.
Personal level impacts include the financial cost of gambling, changes in family budgets and expenditures. They can also be associated with increased debt and other expenses that can lead to bankruptcy or homelessness. Gambling can also cause problems with relationships, work and social life. In addition, it can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. It is therefore important to seek help if you are experiencing these issues.
Interpersonal and community/societal level impacts mainly involve those who are not gamblers but are affected by gambling. These can be the friends and family of the gambler, or other members of the society who spend time with them. Moreover, they may experience problems in their work and social lives as well as other consequences such as crime, health problems and even suicide.
The community/societal level benefits of gambling can also include economic growth, tourism and increased employment. However, gambling can also increase property prices and inflation as well as social disorganization and deprivation. It is also important to note that there are healthier and safer ways of relieving unpleasant feelings and reducing boredom, such as taking up a new hobby or spending time with friends who don’t gamble.
Problem gambling is a complex and serious condition. If you think you have a problem with gambling, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which can help you change the way you think about betting and your beliefs around luck. They can also suggest other treatments, such as marriage and relationship counselling, career and credit counseling. This can help you deal with the specific issues that gambling has created and lay the foundations for a healthy future. You can also get free and confidential debt advice from StepChange. This service is available to everyone in the UK. Moreover, they can provide advice and information about other local services that are available to you. You can even call them on 0800 002 002. This number is free of charge and is available 24 hours a day.