The Risks and Dangers of Gambling


Gambling involves risking money or something of value to try and predict the outcome of a game involving chance, such as betting on football matches or playing scratchcards. It can be done legally and ethically, or illegally in some contexts. The aim of this article is to help people understand the risks associated with gambling, and how it works. It also looks at the signs of a problem, and what to do if you are worried about your own gambling or someone else’s.

The human brain is wired to seek rewards. When we engage in healthy behaviors, such as spending time with family and friends, or eating a nutritious meal, our brains release dopamine, which makes us feel good. This is why we are often attracted to activities that can provide these rewards – like gambling. However, in most cases gambling is a risky activity that can have severe financial and social consequences.

Some people gamble for fun, or to pass the time. But for many, it’s a serious problem. People with a gambling disorder have difficulty controlling their urges to gamble and continue to gamble even when it has a negative impact on their lives. They may lie to friends and family members, or use stolen money to fund their gambling. They might jeopardize their job or education, and struggle to maintain relationships with loved ones.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a complex problem with many causes. It usually develops during adolescence or young adulthood, and affects men and women at equal rates. The disorder is more common in people who play strategic or face-to-face games, such as poker or blackjack. It is less common in nonstrategic, or remote, forms of gambling such as online gaming or slot machines.

There are a number of different ways to manage a gambling problem, and there is help available for those who need it. For example, there are support groups for those with gambling disorders, and counselling can help. If you’re concerned about the gambling behaviour of a friend or family member, talk to them about your concerns. Getting help early can prevent a problem from becoming worse.

The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or have damaged relationships because of your gambling. But remember that lots of other people have overcome gambling addictions, and you can too. You can start by limiting the amount of money you spend on gambling, and avoiding chasing your losses. You should also try to balance gambling with other activities, and avoid doing it when you’re stressed or down. If you’re not sure where to start, try our free self-assessment or speak to a therapist. We can match you with a vetted, professional therapist in as little as 48 hours. Click here to get started. 2016 The Mental Health Foundation. All rights reserved. Mental illness facts and figures provided by The Mental Health Foundation of Australia and based on Australian data.