Gambling occurs when people stake something valuable, such as money or items of value (like lottery tickets, sports betting or pokies), on an event with the potential to win a prize. It can happen anywhere, from a casino or racetrack to online gambling sites. Often, gamblers risk more than they can afford to lose in the hope of winning big. Some people are able to control their gambling behaviour and stop before it causes harm, but for others, it is a difficult addiction that can cause serious financial and personal problems.
Research has shown that gambling has impacts at multiple levels – personal/interpersonal, community/society and economic/societal. These impacts can have positive and negative consequences, depending on the situation. It’s important to understand the effects of gambling on your life so you can make better choices.
The most important thing is to recognise that you have a problem and seek help. It’s not easy to admit that you have a gambling addiction, especially if it has cost you money and strained or broken relationships, but many people do recover from this habit.
If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, try to find healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings or boredom, like exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up a new hobby or practicing relaxation techniques. If you need more support, try counselling with a mental health professional or checking out inpatient or residential treatment programs for problem gambling.