Gambling is an activity that involves putting something of value at risk for the possibility of gain. It is a social activity with an element of uncertainty and risk that is often influenced by the environment and community in which people live. It can include card games, fruit machines and video-draw poker machines; betting on sports events such as football accumulators and horse races; lottery tickets; instant scratch cards and bingo; and speculating on stocks or business investments.
The impacts of gambling are usually categorized into three categories: financial, labor and health and well-being. These can occur on the personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels. In terms of the latter, problem gamblers can incur debts that impact their family members and their ability to work. This can also lead to a lack of income and even bankruptcy.
It’s important to recognise when a person’s gambling is getting out of control. They may start lying about their spending and hiding evidence of gambling from their friends or family. They may also start to rely on gambling as a way of self-soothing unpleasant emotions or unwinding. There are healthier and more effective ways to relieve boredom, stress or negative moods, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.
It’s also vital to seek help for any underlying mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse. These can trigger or make worse problems with gambling and affect mental wellbeing in general.