Gambling and Gambling-Related Problems

Gambling involves betting something of value on an event with the intent to win something else of value. It requires consideration, risk, and a prize (see Figure 1).

Research has examined gambling at the personal, interpersonal, and community/societal levels. The majority of studies have focused on negative impacts, mainly costs to society [35]. Negative impacts include increased crime and social costs associated with gambling venues. Other costs associated with gambling include higher medical expenses, lost wages, and increased financial distress resulting from gambling-related problems. In addition, studies have found that individuals convicted of gambling-related crimes face criminal penalties that range from probation to jail time.

Managing problem gambling is possible by identifying triggers and replacing them with more healthy activities. This could include avoiding gambling triggers such as driving past casinos, taking an alternate route to work when your regular one passes a casino, and changing the channel when watching sports or reading that encourages gambling. It also helps to reduce the financial risks of gambling by leaving credit cards at home, limiting the amount of money you carry, and staying away from betting shops. Finally, it can be helpful to talk about your gambling issues with someone you trust or get non-judgemental support from the GamCare helpline. It is also important to challenge unhealthy thinking habits like the illusion of control, irrational beliefs, and the gambler’s fallacy. These unhealthy thought patterns can increase compulsive gambling. By practicing mindfulness, meditation, and other relaxation techniques you can slow down your thoughts and shift your focus to the present.