Gambling happens when you stake something of value on an event with an element of chance and the potential to win a prize. This could be money, or it could be an object of value such as a car, a house or even a vacation. Many people gamble for fun or to make a little extra cash but it can also be a serious business that involves skill and strategy. Regardless of the type of gambling you engage in, it is important to understand how it works and how to protect yourself from the dangers.
A large number of people around the world enjoy gambling and have no problem controlling their behaviour. However, some people are unable to control their gambling and are at risk of developing a gambling disorder. It is a mental health condition that can have significant negative impacts on both the gambler and their family. The disorder is recognised by professional mental health practitioners and can be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Several factors can contribute to a gambling disorder. These include an underlying mental illness, an uncontrollable urge to gamble and poor financial management skills. It is important to recognise the signs of a gambling disorder so that you can seek treatment. You can find help by talking to your GP or by attending a support group for gamblers.
In addition to the negative psychological impact of gambling, there are also a number of social costs associated with it. These costs are not measurable in terms of monetary values and they can be invisible to the gambler. They can affect the gambler’s quality of life and are often ignored by researchers who concentrate on monetary economic costs and benefits.
The social impacts of gambling can be divided into personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels. The former refers to the gambler’s family and friends and is mainly non-monetary in nature, while the latter are primarily monetary and can be general costs, costs related to problem gambling and long term cost/benefits.
The majority of gambling studies focus on economic costs and benefits which are relatively easy to measure. The few longitudinal studies available focus on psychiatric disorders and gambling addiction but they are limited by the difficulty of conducting follow ups over extended periods of time. There are also practical and logistical barriers to conducting longitudinal research on gambling, such as difficulties in obtaining funding for a multiyear project and problems with attrition. However, there are a number of initiatives to improve the research into gambling. These include the development of health-related quality of life weights for gambling and the use of a public health perspective to examine costs/benefits. These have the potential to reveal a wider range of impacts than has previously been acknowledged. They can also provide evidence on the need for interventions to reduce gambling-related harms.