The Impacts of Gambling


Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event with the potential to win a prize. Several elements are involved in gambling, including risk-taking and impulsivity. Research suggests that these factors may be genetic, and also involve the way in which people’s brains process reward information and control their impulses.

A person can gamble on any number of things, from placing a bet on their favourite football team to playing a scratchcard. Choosing what to bet on is the first step in gambling. This is often matched against ‘odds’, which are set by betting companies and determine how much money someone could win if they won the bet. The outcome of the event is then based on random chance.

Problem gambling is associated with negative impacts on the gambler, their significant others and society. These impacts can have long-lasting effects and are observed at the individual, interpersonal, family, community, and societal level.

The most obvious impact of gambling is financial harm. Other impacts include emotional distress, relationship difficulties, work performance problems and ill-health. Gambling is often a symptom of mood disorders such as depression or anxiety.

If you know someone who is struggling with a gambling addiction, encourage them to seek treatment. You can also help by offering other ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques. Also, consider finding a peer support group for gamblers such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is a 12-step recovery program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous.