The Dangers of Gambling


Gambling involves betting something of value on an event that is uncertain in terms of outcome, usually a game, with the hope of winning a prize. Whether in casinos, on sports teams or online, gambling is popular for many people, but it can be dangerous. For some, it becomes a serious addiction that causes financial and personal problems. Its appeal is based in part on the enjoyment of taking risks and imagining rewards, and it may involve social desirability or the drama of the games themselves.

While much experimental research has focused on the determinants of gamblers’ risk-taking, there has been little research on the psychological and sociological aspects of gambling in society. Recently, some work has been done on the effects of legalization and changes in gambling industry practices (Rose & Cook, 1994).

A variety of behavioral disorders can be associated with gambling. These range from behaviors that place individuals at higher risk of developing more serious problem behavior to those that meet the diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling in the DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). These disordered gamblers frequently report a desire to increase wager sizes or other forms of excessive betting; attempts to regain lost money by continuing to bet; feelings of restlessness and irritability that interfere with daily functioning; and actions that jeopardize relationships and employment opportunities (Petry, 2005).

To reduce your risk of becoming addicted to gambling, make it a rule to only gamble when you can afford to lose the amount you plan to spend. Set a time limit for how long you want to gamble and leave when you reach that limit, even if you are ahead. Don’t gamble on credit, and don’t use gambling to relieve boredom or stress. Instead, find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions and socialize, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or joining a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous.