Gambling and Its Socio-Cultural Antecedents


Gambling is a form of risk-taking where the outcome depends on chance, such as betting on a horse race or a lottery. It also includes activities where the participant is willing to make a wager that involves some degree of skill, such as a casino game or sports betting. In addition, gambling can involve the use of social capital (e.g., a friend’s recommendation or the advice of a professional). Problem gambling has been described as a behavioral disorder and can be classified according to specific criteria, such as a loss of control, preoccupation with gambling, and a sense of entitlement to win. Depending on the severity of the problem, it can lead to financial difficulties, psychological distress, and legal problems.

Understanding and responding to problem gambling requires a shift in paradigm. While a great deal of gambling research focuses on individual behaviour and addiction, there is a smaller but growing corpus of socio-cultural approaches to the issue. These perspectives have the potential to broaden the scope of harm reduction strategies to acknowledge the wider societal and regulatory influences on gambling practices, which could in turn influence the outcomes of such practises.

In order to examine antecedents of regular gambling, the ALSPAC sample was analysed at three time points: age 17, 20 years and 24 years. Due to large losses to follow-up, only 1672 participants completed all three gambling surveys. Consequently, detailed analyses using multiple imputation methods on complete cases were not possible without incurring biased estimates and losing power. However, it was clear that rates of participation in gambling increased over the study period. This increase was most evident in online gambling, which is likely a reflection of increasing internet usage in young people.

Other significant findings were that a number of different risk factors for gambling emerged across the three time points, and that these were relatively stable. These included individual, parental and socio-economic status variables. It was also found that a greater percentage of respondents at each time point reported having gambled in the previous year. Finally, it was found that participants who gambled regularly were more likely to be male and from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

To reduce the likelihood of becoming a problem gambler, try to avoid gambling when you are bored or stressed. Find other ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. Also, do not gamble with money that you cannot afford to lose. And be sure to tip your casino employees, such as dealers or cocktail waitresses. You can do this in cash or by handing them a chip clearly labeled as a tip. Also, never chase your losses—trying to recoup lost money by gambling more often only increases the size of your losses. Also, never gamble when you are depressed or upset. This is a recipe for disaster. Finally, don’t use credit to gamble and always set a time limit for how long you want to spend gambling.