How to Recognise a Gambling Problem

Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is random, for example throwing dice or pulling the lever of a slot machine. The gambler hopes to win something else of value in return, such as money or goods. People often gamble for entertainment, and it can also be a way to socialize with friends. However, gambling is not always fun or safe and it can lead to financial problems, depression and even suicide.

Some people are more likely to develop a gambling problem than others. This may be due to genetic predispositions for thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity, or experiences such as family breakdown and financial difficulties. People can also be influenced by their culture, which may consider gambling as a normal pastime and make it harder to recognise that a person has a problem.

People who have a gambling problem often feel they are ‘out of control’ and can’t stop betting, even when they are losing large amounts of money. They may also find it difficult to think about the future and how they might cope with their current situation. Some people feel a strong urge to gamble because they are depressed, anxious or lonely. They may also use gambling as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings by socializing with friends who gamble or escaping into fantasy worlds such as video and mobile games that ask for micro-transactions and payments.

Some people become addicted to gambling because of the dopamine that is released when they win. This reward system is activated in a similar way to how it is by certain drugs.