Understanding Gambling Problems


Gambling is an activity in which a person wagers something of value on an event with a random outcome and where the likelihood of winning is not related to skill. People gamble with money, goods or services and in some instances with movable items such as collectible cards or small discs.

Throughout history, gambling has been associated with fraud and deceit, but modern gambling can take many forms. It is now a major international commercial activity and includes activities where chance is the deciding factor, such as lottery games, scratchcards, sports betting and casino gaming.

While most people are not pathological gamblers, it is important to recognize that some individuals develop a problem. Some individuals may be at risk for developing a gambling problem because of their genetics or other personal factors, such as an underactive brain reward system. Other individuals may be at risk for gambling problems because of their culture, which can influence how they think about risk taking and impulsivity.

There are four common reasons that people gamble. These are social, financial, entertainment and coping reasons. Individuals who gamble for social reasons do so to enjoy the rush of having fun with friends or family members. They also may be attracted to the idea that they could win big and change their lives. For coping reasons, gambling can be used as a way to relieve boredom or depression.

When someone loses a bet, they can feel compelled to keep gambling in order to experience the same pleasure that they felt when they won. The feeling of elation can be highly reinforcing, and individuals who have a higher tendency to seek out sensations or enjoy complex or varied stimulation may be at greater risk for gambling problems.

The risk of gambling problems is heightened when it occurs in conjunction with other factors, such as an unhealthy relationship, job, health issues or alcohol and drug abuse. Additionally, gambling can be promoted by television shows, where individuals compete to win large sums of money.

To help prevent gambling problems, it is essential to learn healthier coping and stress relief skills. It is also helpful to be aware of the risks of gambling and to be able to identify signs of addiction, such as lying, hiding or spending more time on gambling than other activities. It is also advisable to limit access to credit cards, let someone else manage your money and avoid playing online casino games. You should also start with a fixed amount of cash and never chase your losses. The best thing to do is to stop gambling altogether if you are having trouble. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that matches you with licensed, accredited therapists for help with depression, anxiety, relationships and more. Get started with a free assessment and be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.