Gambling is the wagering of money or other items of value on a random event with the hope of winning a prize. Examples of gambling include betting on sports games and events, playing cards, lotteries, scratchcards, and other games of chance. Gambling can have significant impacts on individuals, families and communities. These impacts can be visible at the individual level (personal and interpersonal), invisible at the community/society level, or a combination of both. Impacts may also be long-term.
People who gamble can be influenced by the pleasures and rewards that come from winning. Physiologically, the brain releases dopamine as a reward for making successful bets. It is this pleasure that keeps some people going despite mounting losses. In addition, some gamblers believe that they will eventually win back the money that they have lost.
Problem gambling is often a hidden addiction and can be difficult to detect because the person might lie about how much they are spending or hide evidence of their gambling activities. It is also hard for them to stop because impulsivity makes it harder for them to weigh up the long-term effects of their actions.
Getting help is essential for those who are struggling with problem gambling. It is important for loved ones to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to keep a close eye on their finances, credit, and other assets. Support can be found at peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is also helpful to find professional help such as a counsellor or therapist.