What Are the Consequences of Gambling?

Gambling is the staking of something of value, usually money, on a random event in the hope of gaining something else of value. This activity involves the risk of loss and the desire to win, and can be found in a wide variety of forms, from lottery tickets and the betting of small sums of money by people who have little to spare, to sophisticated casino gambling involving a high level of skill. Gambling is distinguished from other kinds of risk-taking, such as buying a stock or a bond at an agreed price on a future date, and from insurance contracts involving a promise to pay something of value on a certain outcome (e.g., life, health or automobile insurance).

Despite its widespread popularity and the fact that it can bring pleasure and excitement, many people suffer from problem gambling. This can disrupt relationships, cause emotional distress and lead to financial problems and homelessness. It can also interfere with a person’s ability to work or study. In some cases, the consequences of gambling can even be lethal.

Over the years, our understanding of the adverse consequences of gambling has undergone profound change. Until recently, it was generally accepted that individuals who were affected by this behavior had gambling disorders. However, this view was challenged in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (1980, 1987, 1994). Consequently, it is now recognized that the term pathological gambling is more appropriate.

The DSM criteria for problem gambling include:

It is important to recognize that problem gambling is a disorder and not just an activity. It can interfere with a person’s daily functioning, leading to poor relationships, unsatisfactory job performance, and debt that can threaten one’s family’s financial stability. It can also cause depression and anxiety. In addition, underlying mood disorders can both trigger compulsive gambling and make it worse.

While there are different reasons for problematic gambling, most of them have to do with a lack of impulse control. Some of these include:

There are several ways to help someone with a gambling problem. For example, they can try to reduce the amount of time spent on gambling or find other ways to meet their social and emotional needs. They can also try to resolve any underlying mood issues. In addition, they can seek therapy or join a support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lastly, they can try to make new friends who do not engage in this type of behavior. If these are not possible, they should seek treatment for their addiction. They should also contact Public Health England to learn more about the risks of gambling and how to prevent it. They can also seek legal advice and/or credit counseling. This will help them restructure their finances and address any debts. They can also seek family and marriage therapy to repair damaged relationships and lay a foundation for healthy functioning.