Gambling is an activity where a person wagers something of value (such as money or property) on an event with an uncertain outcome. The term ‘gambling’ also encompasses activities where a person places a bet with another individual or group of individuals, such as in a sporting event or game, in which the result is determined by chance or skill. In either case, for the bet to be considered gambling, three things must be present: consideration, risk, and a prize.
There is a long history of people making a living from gambling, both honestly and dishonestly. Similarly, there is a long history of prohibition and legal bans on gambling, whether for moral or religious reasons, to prevent violent disputes, or simply to encourage people to spend their time more productively. In modern times, however, it is possible to gamble for virtually anything — from paper tickets or scratch-offs to online video games. Moreover, gambling is not only legal in many countries, but it is also increasingly popular.
While there are a number of risks associated with gambling, it is important to recognize that it is an enjoyable and often rewarding activity when done in moderation. In addition to the socializing and psychological benefits, gambling can help people improve their skills and sharpen their mental agility. However, if a person starts to experience negative effects such as losing control over their finances, lying to those close to them, or hiding evidence of gambling, they may have a problem.
If you have a problem with gambling, or are concerned about someone you know, talk to one of our counsellors. They are available 24/7 and free of charge.
It is very difficult to admit that you have a problem, especially if it has cost you a lot of money or caused difficulties in your relationships. However, acknowledging a problem is the first step to getting help. This could involve seeking out a professional therapist who specialises in gambling addiction, or a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous which is based on the 12-step recovery model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.
The consequences of gambling can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including work and family. In a study of concerned significant others, 84% reported that their partner’s gambling had negative impacts on their own employment. These included reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, loss of wages or salary, and a fear of losing their job. For those who are struggling to overcome a gambling addiction, there are a number of treatments that have been shown to be effective, including cognitive-behavioral therapy which can teach people how to resist unwanted thoughts and behaviors, and confront irrational beliefs such as the notion that a string of losses or a miss on a slot machine indicates an imminent win. In addition, there are inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs for those with severe gambling problems who need round-the-clock support to help them break their habit. These programs often include group therapy, and sometimes include individual or couples counseling as well.