Gambling involves putting something of value at risk on an event that is determined, at least in part, by chance. The event could be a football game, a horse race, a lottery, a scratchcard, or even the flip of a coin. The gambler hopes to win the prize, which is usually money, but it can also be anything else of value. Often, the odds of winning are not so clear cut and must be carefully considered.
People who have gambling problems experience a variety of negative consequences. These can include emotional and financial difficulties. Problem gambling can also interfere with a person’s work and social life. Many of these effects can be reversed if the person gets help.
The cost of gambling is not always visible to a person, but it can have a significant impact on society. For example, it can affect the health and welfare of the community. It can also increase crime and destabilise economies. Gambling can also lead to addiction and mental illness.
Problem gambling can have a direct effect on employment, leading to productivity losses and impaired working relationships. In addition, it can cause absenteeism and reduce the quality of work. Among treatment-seeking problem gamblers, almost 40% reported that their gambling had affected their job performance. Moreover, if the problem gambler is employed in an industry that promotes gambling, such as the casino industry, it can be difficult to stop gambling.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person is considered to have a gambling disorder if they meet at least three of the following criteria:
(1) they place bets or wagers on an event that is based on chance and has the potential to produce a substantial gain; (2) they lose control over their gambling activity; (3) they exhibit signs of distress (e.g., guilt, anxiety or depression); (4) they lie to family members, friends or therapists about the extent of their gambling; (5) they steal to finance their gambling; and (6) they jeopardize or lose a relationship, career or educational opportunity because of gambling. It is important to note that gambling disorders are very common and are often overlooked.
Generally, people gamble for four reasons: socialising, skill development and thrill-seeking. Understanding these motivations can help to prevent a person from becoming addicted to gambling. Moreover, it can help family members of problem gamblers to be more understanding and supportive.