Gambling involves betting on a game, event or a lottery and often risks money. It is common in a variety of places, including gas stations, church halls, and on the Internet.
People gamble in a variety of ways, from playing scratchcards to placing a bet on a football match. It can be a harmless pastime, but it can also become a problem if you lose too much. It can even be a symptom of underlying mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Understanding gambling harm is important to addressing problem gambling and developing better prevention and treatment approaches. This research aimed to describe the range of harms that can occur from gambling, and to explore what might be done to reduce their impact on individuals and their affected others.
General harms from gambling were defined as harms that were experienced by the person who gambled and their affected others, regardless of the level of engagement or behavioural level. This is a critical shift from previous studies in the area of gambling harms that focussed on only harms experienced at the point of diagnosis of problem gambling or when engaging with gambling products.
The general harms category included instances of loss of savings, financial resources, or discretionary income due to excessive or uncontrolled gambling behaviours. These losses were accompanied by a reduction in the ability to engage in other activities, such as family outings or participation in artistic, cultural, sporting, educational or social activity.
Harms relating to performance in work or study were also identified within the general harms category, as was the impact of reduced engagement or withdrawal from education or volunteer (non-paid) work, which had both immediate and long term community level impacts. This impact was largely linked to economic impacts of absence or job turnover, as well as the reduction in workforce skills that contribute to employment outcomes and growth in the economy.
A further dimension of general harms from gambling was that of relationship breakdown or conflict between people who gambled and their affected others, as well as instances where gambling behaviours were a defining feature of the relationship. Relationship harms were largely related to a breakdown in trust between the gambling person and their affected others, with this being exacerbated by the perceived deviance or unacceptable nature of the gambling behaviours.
Other harms to relationships that were identified were a sense of shame or stigmatisation on the part of the gambling person and their affected others, based on a personal or cultural perception that the gambling behaviours were wrong or inappropriate, as well as instances of loss of trust in the other person. These instances of relationship harms were associated with instances where the person who gambled had lost a sense of control or a feeling of being in control of their gambling behaviours, and this was often accompanied by an inability to make rational decisions.
Gambling is a highly addictive disorder, and can have significant negative consequences for the person who gambles and their affected others. It can also interfere with work and social life, and cause significant psychological distress. Depending on the extent of the problem, seeking help from a support service can help you control or abstain from gambling.