What is Gambling and How Can it Affect You?

Gambling involves placing something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. The gambler hopes to win something of value (usually money) for the wager. Instances of strategy are discounted. Although most people think of gambling as slots, roulette and other casino games, the activity extends to activities like bingo and office pools. There are even video games that allow players to place bets or play as characters in a virtual world. It has never been easier to make a bet, with the internet allowing access to casinos and online gambling sites in many places around the world.

Gambling can cause significant problems for individuals, and for society as a whole. It can lead to financial loss, family and relationship strain, and a host of other issues. Many people struggle with gambling addiction and need help to break the habit. The first step is realizing that you have a problem and seeking professional help.

If you suspect that you have a gambling problem, it is important to seek a therapist as soon as possible. BetterHelp has licensed therapists who specialize in depression, anxiety, relationships and more, and can provide the tools you need to overcome your gambling addiction. Take our assessment and be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.

There are a variety of factors that can lead to gambling problems, including:

Environment and community: The gambling environment is a socially constructed construct that is shaped by the number of casinos in an area, the types of gambling offered and whether or not a city has a lottery. It also includes the types of charities and events that use gambling to raise money and the social status of those who participate.

Psychological factors: The risk taking, reward seeking, and cognitive processes of the brain are involved in gambling. Studies have shown that repeated exposure to gambling and uncertainty changes the brain in ways that can be beneficial or harmful. For example, the release of dopamine during gambling may stimulate reward circuits that are similar to those stimulated by drugs of abuse.

Psychiatric classification: Understanding and classifying gambling disorders is difficult. Some research scientists, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians believe that pathological gambling is an addictive disorder and should be classified as such. Others disagree, arguing that while pathological gambling shares some characteristics of substance abuse, it is not comparable and should be treated differently.

Economic impact: It is hard to estimate the economic effects of gambling. Studies that attempt to do so typically make a before-and-after comparison of the area and attribute any change as the result of gambling. This approach is flawed, as increases in per capita income are often due to other factors, and the gains in some cases can be offset by losses in other areas.

It is also challenging to measure intangible benefits and costs. A common shortcoming is the failure to consider environmental or social costs that are not directly tied to gambling facilities. For example, the construction of a new casino may require the destruction of a wetland.