Gambling is a type of risky behaviour in which you wager something of value, such as money or goods, on an uncertain outcome. It is often considered an addictive behaviour, and there are a number of warning signs to watch out for. These include gambling more than you can afford to lose, borrowing to fund your betting or hiding evidence of your activities. If you are concerned that your gambling is out of control, there is help available to address the problem and restore your health and relationships.
There are many types of gambling, from online casinos to lottery tickets and keno. Each involves a different level of risk, and some are more likely to cause harm than others. The most common form of gambling is online, where people can place bets with real money and potentially win large sums of cash. Some of these sites are licensed and regulated by governments, while others are not. In addition to money, some gambling games use materials with a value other than money, such as marbles or trading cards. The rules of these games are set by the organisers and can affect how often players gamble and the nature of their gambling.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including to socialise, escape stress or boredom, or to relieve unpleasant feelings such as anxiety or depression. People with mental health problems are more likely to develop harmful gambling behaviour, and this can have a significant impact on their quality of life. However, there are a number of ways to manage your gambling and prevent it from becoming problematic, such as finding healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings or unwinding, spending more time with friends who don’t gamble and trying relaxation techniques.
Gambling involves assuming a risk and receiving something of value in return, but the expected value is always negative. In the case of casino gambling this is because the house takes a cut of all bets. In more informal settings, such as a poker game or a bet on the results of a sporting event, the stakes are often not monetary and the winnings are based solely on chance.
The psychiatric community used to consider pathological gambling as a compulsive behaviour, but in the 1980s, following 15 years of deliberation, the APA decided to change the classification of gambling disorder and placed it within the category of impulse control disorders, alongside kleptomania (stealing), pyromania (burning) and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).
If you have a loved one who has a problem with gambling, it is important to reach out for support and advice. You can find help through treatment programmes and support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition to a support network, you may also want to consider taking over the management of your loved one’s money and credit card, to avoid them using their own resources to fuel their addiction. This can also help you establish clear boundaries and limit their access to funds they might try to spend on betting.