Gambling is the wagering of money or something else of value on an event with some element of chance, where there is no certainty of winning or losing. It can be done in many different ways, from betting on football accumulators and horse racing to lottery games and scratch-off tickets. It is also possible to gamble by speculating on business or financial markets, although this has less in common with traditional gambling.
While for some people gambling can be a fun and enjoyable pastime, it can also negatively impact other areas of their lives. Problem gambling can affect health and wellbeing, relationships and work performance, leave them in serious debt and even lead to homelessness. Research shows that it is important to recognise the signs of problem gambling and seek help if necessary.
Whether you’re in a twinkly casino or on your sofa, gambling can be addictive. Here are some tips to help you stay in control:
Start with a fixed amount that you’re willing to lose, and stick to it. Make sure you don’t use money that you need for bills or other essentials. Don’t try to win back any losses – this is known as chasing your losses and can often lead to bigger losses. Avoid drinking excessively – alcohol can reduce your decision-making skills and cause you to lose track of how much you’re spending.
Set a time limit for how long you want to gamble, and then walk away when you’ve reached that limit – whether you’re winning or losing. Avoid gambling when you’re depressed, upset or stressed – these emotions can make it hard to make good decisions about how much money you should spend. Don’t gamble on credit – this can lead to more debt and can make it harder to get back on track if you do have a loss.
Don’t gamble when you’re hungry or tired – this can lead to more reckless gambling. Also, don’t gamble while you’re on medication – it can affect your ability to think clearly and may increase the risk of self-harm or suicide.
Many studies focus on negative impacts of gambling, but a public health approach is needed to consider all the costs and benefits. Social impacts, such as those related to relationships, health and well-being and community/societal effects are often ignored, because they are difficult to quantify in economic costing models. This approach overlooks the fact that harms can occur at all levels of severity. The concept of a ‘societal real wealth’ can be used to identify these impacts, but this definition has yet to be widely adopted. This is a critical limitation that needs to be addressed.