Gambling is the wagering of something of value (e.g. money, property, or possessions) on a random event with the intent to win something else of value (e.g. a prize). The event can be an actual happening, like a horse race or a game of chance, such as slot machines or roulette, or it could be a virtual event, such as playing a computer game or making a wager over the telephone. There are many different forms of gambling, from traditional casino games to lottery and bingo. The monetary prize may range from small amounts to life-changing jackpots.
Gambling has a number of impacts at the personal, interpersonal, and community/society levels. At the personal level, gambling can lead to increased debt, strained relationships and even homelessness. It also creates costs that others must pay, such as inflated food prices and increased gambling-related crime. At the interpersonal level, the effects of gambling can be felt by family and friends who are forced to support gamblers, as well as those who work in the casinos or for businesses that benefit from gambling revenues. At the community/society level, gambling can have positive long-term effects if it is partly directed to beneficial causes.
Unlike some other behavioural addictions, such as drug and alcohol use, it is possible to stop gambling completely. However, it takes tremendous self-discipline and may require support from a psychologist or addiction specialist. Some people find it easier to stop if they have something to replace their gambling, such as exercising or taking up a hobby. It can also help to strengthen your resolve by talking about it with others, such as by joining a support group like Gamblers Anonymous.
If you are struggling with a gambling problem, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. The sooner you get the treatment you need, the more likely you are to overcome your addiction and reclaim control of your life.
If you think your gambling is getting out of hand, contact a Better Health Channel counsellor on 1800 002 222 or visit our Find a service page to see which services are available in your area. You can also speak to a counsellor online on our live chat service. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7. It is not uncommon for people who are addicted to gambling to have a co-occurring mental health or substance use condition. Our service representatives can refer you to a relevant specialist. Call us today to book a consultation.