Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event with the intent of winning something else of value. In most cases, the outcome of the event is based on chance and the player’s skill level is irrelevant. Gambling can occur in many forms, including lotteries, sports betting and video poker. It can also take place in a casino or online. Problem gambling can affect anyone, and it can impact relationships, work and finances.
Gamblers often feel a desire to win, and this can lead them to risk more money in the hopes of increasing their chances of winning. Unlike recreational gamblers, problem gamblers are at high risk for developing depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. They may also experience physical symptoms such as digestive problems, migraines and headaches. Problem gambling is considered an impulse control disorder and is classified in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5).
It is impossible to predict whether or not someone will develop a gambling addiction. Even people who are usually responsible and dependable can develop a gambling addiction. It is believed that genetics and neurological factors play a role in a person’s susceptibility to addiction.
There are a number of ways to combat gambling addiction. One option is to seek a therapist, who can help the individual identify and understand their triggers. Therapy can also teach the individual healthier coping strategies and alternative ways to deal with stress and boredom. It is also important to seek social support, as people with gambling addictions tend to isolate themselves. Developing a strong network of family and friends can make it easier to break the habit.
Changing your lifestyle can also help. It is important to remove yourself from the gambling environment, which means closing accounts, avoiding casinos and other gambling establishments, and keeping only a small amount of cash on you at all times. It is also helpful to talk about your problem with a trusted friend or professional counsellor.
While studies of gambling have focused mainly on the economic impacts of gambling, researchers should pay more attention to the social impacts as well. In general, research has ignored social impacts because they are not easily quantifiable. However, this approach limits the findings and misrepresents the impact of gambling on society. Moreover, the social costs of gambling are likely underestimated because most studies ignore positive impacts and those that affect nonproblematic gamblers.
In order to address these gaps, researchers should use public health tools to quantify the negative and positive social impacts of gambling. For example, researchers could use quality of life weights to quantify intangible social costs and find the effect of gambling on gamblers and their significant others. This would help in constructing a comprehensive model of the impact of gambling from both an economic and a public health perspective.