Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, usually money, on an uncertain event with the intention of winning something else of value (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). It is most commonly associated with games of chance but can include activities involving skill such as sports events and horse races. Commercial establishments such as casinos, racetracks and online gaming sites organize gambling.
The motives for gambling are complex. Some people gamble to relieve boredom, loneliness or stress; others do it for the excitement of winning big. Research has shown that the brain’s reward system is activated when gamblers win.
For some, the idea of winning can become an obsession and cause problems. This is known as Pathological Gambling and can have long-term effects on mental health and relationships, work performance and financial stability.
It is important to understand how gambling works and how to protect yourself from harm. This can help you control your spending and avoid debt. If you are struggling with a gambling problem, speak to one of our counsellors for free, confidential support.
Some people find it easier to quit gambling by making changes to their environment. This can be as simple as avoiding casinos and online gambling websites, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and exploring new hobbies. It is also helpful to seek professional help, such as family therapy and peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. You can also try hypnotherapy and medication.