Why Gambling Can Be a Problem



Gambling involves risk taking and the chance of losing money, but many people enjoy gambling for entertainment. The thrill of betting on a team or game keeps the brain active and can even make you feel happier, especially in lower socioeconomic groups. This is because happiness helps to calm the brain.

Problematic gambling may cause damage to a person’s health, well-being and relationships. It can also contribute to stress and depression. In the long term, this can lead to financial, family and work problems. It may also be difficult to recognize when gambling is a problem.

Research suggests that some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. This can affect how the brain processes reward information and control impulses.

When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel excited. This reward system is a natural response that helps us learn from our experiences. However, if you keep losing, you can begin to feel less excited about the activity. This is called a ‘loss aversion’ reaction.

Another reason why you might feel less enthusiastic about gambling is because of the ‘gambler’s fallacy’. This is when you think that you are due for a win and can recoup your losses. This can make you invest more time and money into the activity, which often leads to further losses. To prevent this, never chase your losses, and always start with a fixed amount that you are prepared to lose.