Whether it’s rolling dice, playing poker or buying scratchcards, gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value in the hope of winning something else of value. It’s about chance and uncertainty, and it is illegal in many places. The rules around gambling are set by governments, with laws and regulations differing from one country to another.
The element of luck is at the heart of gambling, and if this is not managed well it can be detrimental to people’s health and wellbeing. It can harm relationships, impact performance at work or school and leave people in debt. It can also lead to serious criminal behavior and even cause suicide. The good news is that there are a number of ways to manage gambling addiction.
One key point is to only gamble with disposable income – not money that needs to be used for rent, bills or food. Another is to set a fixed amount of time to spend gambling and stick to it. It is easy to lose track of time in a casino without clocks or windows, so setting an alarm is a good idea. Never chase your losses either – thinking you are due a big win and can recoup your losing streak is called the gambler’s fallacy.
If you are dealing with a loved one who has a gambling problem, it’s important to reach out for support and advice. Consider a national helpline, family therapy and self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Research has shown that physical activity can also help.