Gambling involves risking something of value (typically money) on an event with some element of uncertainty. This could include betting on a football team to win a match, or buying a scratchcard. The amount that you place on a bet is matched to ‘odds’ which are the chances of winning. These odds are calculated by the gambling company and may not always be obvious.
Gambling can have both positive and negative impacts. Negative impacts can be experienced at personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels. Personal and interpersonal impacts affect gamblers directly and those close to them, while community/societal effects affect non-gamblers.
Some people gamble to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or stress. They also use it as a social activity and to meet new people. However, there are healthier and safer ways to relieve these feelings such as exercise, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Another reason why some people like gambling is that they think it improves their intelligence. They argue that betting requires a lot of thinking and strategy which can make you smarter.
If you know someone who is suffering from harmful gambling, it’s important to help them. You can do this by seeking legal and financial advice, and contacting a therapist or other counsellor. You can also consider joining a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Ultimately, though, the person who is gambling harmfully has the power to change their behaviour.