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Gambling – What is it and How Can it Affect You?

Gambling – What is it and How Can it Affect You?


Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. In its most common form, it involves money, but it can also involve materials that have a monetary value such as marbles, coins, cards and game pieces such as in the collectible games of Pogs and Magic: The Gathering. Gambling is a widespread activity, and is a major international commercial enterprise. It is also a significant source of harm for individuals, families and communities.

Harm from gambling can impact people with and without a diagnosed problem, and can affect people across the life course. There is currently no robust, internationally agreed definition of gambling related harm, which hampers efforts to address it from a public health perspective. Instead, policies and research rely on inadequate proxy measures such as problem gambling symptomology, which often fail to capture the breadth of harmful effects.

While some forms of gambling are more risky than others, all have the potential to lead to addiction. In the US, four in five adults have gambled at some point in their lives. For many, it is a way to relieve stress, make money or even boost their self-esteem. For some, it becomes an addictive compulsion that interferes with work, family and other aspects of their life.

If you think that you are suffering from a gambling problem, the first step is to seek help. You can speak to one of our counsellors, who are free, confidential and available 24/7. They will be able to assess your situation and provide you with the advice that you need.

There are a number of ways to treat a gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT will help you to change the way that you think about betting by teaching you to challenge irrational beliefs such as the belief that you are more likely to win than you really are, or that certain rituals will bring luck.

In addition, you can join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous and helps people recover from their gambling problems. Finally, you can try to distract yourself from gambling by finding other activities that give you the same satisfaction, such as a new hobby or spending time with friends. You can also contact a debt charity such as StepChange for free, confidential debt advice.