Gambling involves risking something of value (typically money) on an event or game that has an element of chance. It can be done on a wide variety of things including scratchcards, fruit machines, poker, horses, sports events, dice or even a casino. It is an activity that has both positive and negative consequences for the gambler and those around them. Gambling impacts can be observed at the personal, interpersonal and community/society level and can cause negative effects such as increased debt and financial strain on families. These impacts can also lead to escalation into problem gambling, which has been shown to have long-term effects that can change a person’s life course and can even pass between generations.
Many people turn to gambling as a way of relieving unpleasant emotions, such as boredom or depression. However, there are healthier and more effective ways of dealing with these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, practicing relaxation techniques or taking up a new hobby. If you’re worried about your own gambling or someone close to you, it’s important to seek help and advice.
While there are a range of different treatments available for gambling problems, the most commonly used is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This approach looks at the beliefs and thoughts that surround betting, such as believing you’re more likely to win than you actually are or thinking certain rituals can bring luck. It can also address how you manage your finances and make decisions, helping you to understand why you bet and learn more about the odds of winning.
Research shows that people with a gambling problem are more likely to experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and suicide. These issues can also lead to substance use problems and can cause damage to relationships, both within the family and at work. A number of organisations can provide support and treatment for people with a gambling problem, including StepChange who offer free debt advice.
Gambling can also have a negative impact on the economy, for example by decreasing labour market participation and leading to higher unemployment. It can also affect public services and lead to a reduction in the quality of life for those in affected communities. The impact of gambling can be measured using a variety of methods, such as cost-benefit analysis and disability weights, which measure the burden on an individual’s health status.
The key methodological challenges in examining the impacts of gambling lie in measuring and identifying which portion of the overall impacts are attributable to gambling. For this reason, a multidisciplinary approach is required to investigate the different impacts of gambling. This article proposes a framework for evaluating these impacts across the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels.