How Gambling Can Turn Into a Problem

Gambling involves placing a bet on something of value (money or material goods) that is subject to chance, where the outcome depends on an element of luck. This could include a roll of a dice, the spin of a roulette wheel or the outcome of a horse race. People who gamble may experience a range of feelings, including excitement and elation when winning, or regret and guilt when losing. Historically, gambling was viewed as immoral and illegal but it is now a multi-billion dollar industry that provides jobs, taxes and other benefits.

Some people are more prone to developing an addiction to gambling than others. This can be due to a combination of factors, such as:

Genetics: Some people have a predisposition towards developing an addictive behaviour. There is also evidence that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of an addiction.

Psychological factors: Individuals who have a history of trauma and/or childhood abuse are more likely to develop an addiction to gambling. A lack of confidence and self-esteem can also increase vulnerability. Additionally, individuals who suffer from cognitive distortions (overestimating their chances of winning or underestimating the risks involved in gambling) are more at risk for developing an addiction.

Gambling can be a fun pastime, but it can quickly turn into a problem if someone loses control. People who are concerned that they may be developing a gambling problem should seek help from a professional, such as a gambling counsellor. Problem gambling can have many negative consequences, including missed work or school, poor health and arguments with family members and friends.

There are a number of things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of gambling becoming a problem, including:

Self-exclusion: It’s important to avoid places and situations that can trigger you to gamble. This might involve avoiding casinos, downloading apps like Bet Blocker to prevent yourself from accessing gambling websites on your phone, and restricting communication with friends who will instigate you to gamble.

Relieving unpleasant emotions: People who struggle with a gambling problem often use it as a way to cope with negative emotions, stress or boredom. It’s important to find healthier ways to relieve these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques.

If you know someone who has a gambling problem, try to be open and honest about your concerns. If you raise the issue in a non-confrontational and supportive way, they are more likely to be open to discussing their issues with you. Alternatively, they may be more willing to consider self-help strategies and peer support or even professional gambling treatment. Getting help early on can make a significant difference to an individual’s life and well-being.