Gambling and Its Effects

Gambling involves the betting of something of value on an event with a conscious risk and hope of gain. It can be done through games of chance (like slot machines and keno) or those that require skill, such as poker and sports betting. Gambling can be enjoyable, but it can also have negative effects. Some people gamble as a way to relieve unpleasant emotions or unwind after a stressful day. Others do it for socializing with friends or to get the thrill of winning money. In some cases, gambling can become an addiction.

Several benefits and costs are associated with gambling, including financial, labor, and health and well-being impacts. These impacts manifest at personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels (Fig. 1). Often, gambling affects the well-being of individuals and their families. These impacts include an increase in debt and financial distress, which can lead to bankruptcy and homelessness.

The first step to overcoming problem gambling is admitting that you have a gambling issue. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or have strained or broken relationships with family and friends. Then, you can start taking steps to address the problem. Getting counseling, such as individual and group therapy, marriage and family therapy, or credit and finance counseling, can help you deal with specific problems related to your gambling. You can also get help from a gambling support group to connect with other people who have struggled with the same issues.