Whether it’s betting on a horse race, buying a lottery ticket or simply tossing a coin in the air, gambling is an activity that involves taking a risk in order to win money or prizes. While for many people it is a harmless pastime, others can find themselves in trouble with the law and facing escalating debt and even homelessness. The effects of gambling can also affect family, friends and work colleagues. Moreover, it can have long-term consequences that change the life course of an individual and can pass between generations.
Gambling can be done formally or informally. Formal gambling refers to games of chance where there is a contract between two or more parties. In this case, the parties must agree on the criteria for winning or losing, the amount to be won or lost and what the winner(s) will do with the prize. Often, this is a sum of money but it can be anything from goods and services to real estate or other assets. Informally, a bet can be placed with a friend (e.g., “I bet you $100 that I can beat you”) or it may be a bet with a stranger where there is no agreement on specific terms for success.
Aside from the monetary rewards, gambling can have significant negative social impacts and has been linked to an increase in social problems such as crime, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, suicide, child abuse and other behavioural problems. Gambling can also have adverse social, environmental and economic consequences. Various studies have investigated gambling’s impacts at the individual, interpersonal and community/society levels. Those impacts can be categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health and well-being.
While there are many benefits of gambling, it can have negative implications on a person’s physical and psychological health, family relationships, work performance, study habits and social life. In some cases, it can lead to gambling addiction which is a serious problem affecting millions of people worldwide. If you have a loved one suffering from a gambling disorder, seek help today. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem, and the good news is that there are many resources available to help you overcome it. Our therapists are standing by to help you and can be contacted via our website or by phone. Don’t try to handle this alone; many have been there before and found success in breaking the cycle.