The Impacts of Gambling

Categories : Gambling

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is based on chance. It includes activities such as casinos, horse racing, sports betting, poker and lottery games. Gambling often leads to addiction and can affect a person’s mental health. Despite its widespread social acceptance, gambling can have serious consequences for some people. It can cause stress, depression and anxiety, which in turn can fuel a gambling addiction. In addition, it can lead to debt and family problems, and even bankruptcy and homelessness.

It is estimated that around 2% of the UK population has a gambling problem. This figure is much higher for those living in poverty, where the number is closer to 5%. People gamble for many reasons: to win money, socialise or escape from worries and stress. However, when it becomes an addictive behaviour, it can become a vicious cycle as you are unable to stop – even if you are losing more than you’re winning.

Unlike drugs and alcohol, gambling is not classed as an illegal substance but it can still have devastating effects on a person’s life. The impacts of gambling can be seen at the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (see Fig 1). These impacts are felt by those closest to the gambler such as friends, family and colleagues. They can also impact those who are not directly involved in the gambling activity such as other businesses, local communities and society at large.

While it is difficult to break the habit of gambling, there are a number of things that can be done to help a gambler. The biggest step is recognising that there is a problem. It can be extremely hard to admit this, especially if it has resulted in financial loss or strained or broken relationships.

To reduce the risk of a relapse, it is important to build up a strong support network and learn healthier ways of coping with unpleasant feelings. It is also worth finding new hobbies to distract you from the desire to gamble, such as exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, joining a book club or signing up for an adult education course. Alternatively, online forums can be a useful tool for sharing your thoughts and concerns with others in similar situations.

It’s also important to remember that every person is different and what works for one may not work for another. If you’re concerned about a friend or family member’s gambling habits, it’s a good idea to speak to a professional and find out what options are available. You can also contact your local problem gambling helpline to access treatment and advice. For details of how to find a service in your area, click here.