Gambling involves placing something of value on an event involving chance. It can include scratchcards, fruit machines, betting on football accumulators and other sports events or gambling games like roulette or blackjack. In more serious cases, gambling can cause harm to mental health and relationships, reduce performance at work or study, leave people in debt and even lead to homelessness. It can also impact people’s family and friends, and is often a trigger for other issues such as substance misuse.
Gambling can be a fun activity when it’s done in moderation. However, if you spend more time gambling than you do on other things such as socializing with friends or hobbies, you may start to feel the negative impacts. A good way to help control your spending is to set a limit and stick to it. Try to spend as little as possible and avoid using credit cards. It can also be helpful to keep a record of how much money you’ve spent so you can identify any patterns and see how quickly you’re losing money. Chasing losses can lead to bigger losses, so it’s important to know when to walk away.
It’s not easy to talk about gambling with someone close to you, but it’s essential that you try. If you can, be open and honest with them about how it’s affecting your relationship and how you’d like them to change their habits. It’s also important to let them know that you’re bringing up this topic because you care about them and want to support them. Making critical comments or blaming them for their financial situation is likely to make them defensive and less open to discussing the issue with you.
The positive effects of gambling are well documented, but the costs have been largely overlooked. It’s estimated that problem gamblers contribute $2.3 billion to society annually in the form of lost wages, health care, crime and other social costs. This is in addition to the financial burden caused by the addiction itself, such as bankruptcy and foreclosure.
While it is difficult to accurately measure the total costs of gambling, recent studies from Australia and Wisconsin have made significant progress in identifying some of the measurable benefits and costs. More research is needed, particularly around intangible effects, but we’re hopeful that we can eventually develop a comprehensive picture of the benefits and costs of gambling. In the meantime, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent addiction by limiting your access to gambling and staying away from high-risk situations. You can also try other forms of entertainment that don’t involve a large amount of money, like watching films or practicing mindfulness exercises. If you do get tempted to gamble, it’s important to stay in control and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can find non-judgemental support by calling the GamCare helpline on 0808 808 1010. Remember, gambling is not a cure for depression, anxiety or any other mental health problems.