How Gambling Affects People


Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, betting on the horses or pokies, playing video games, or placing wagers online, gambling involves risking money and/or material goods on an event with an uncertain outcome. Unlike insurance, which uses actuarial methods to calculate premiums, the odds in gambling are usually set by chance. Gambling can cause people harm in many ways, including straining relationships, interfering with work, and causing financial disaster. Problem gambling can affect anyone, from all walks of life. It can begin as occasional recreational activity and become an obsession that leads to problems in family, work, finances, and other areas of one’s life.

To be responsible, gamblers must keep their bankroll in check by only spending money they can afford to lose. They should also avoid chasing their losses, which typically leads to larger losses. Gambling can also negatively impact a person’s mental health, leading to depression, anger, and/or anxiety. A person with a gambling problem should seek help as soon as possible to minimize their negative effects and prevent the addiction from worsening. A good place to start is with family therapy and/or marriage, career, and credit counseling. Strengthening a support network can also be helpful. For example, a person with an addiction can join a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous (similar to Alcoholics Anonymous), which helps them stay accountable and free from addictive behaviors. Then, they can focus on rebuilding their lives. They can find meaningful activities, such as volunteering for a cause they care about, or making new friends in a book club or sports team.