Gambling is risking something of value (money, possessions or reputation) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. The gambler hopes to win the event and gain something of value in return. Although some people might associate gambling with slot machines or casinos, there are many forms of gambling:
Choosing a bet: You make a decision about what you want to bet on – for example, a football accumulator, the lottery or scratchcard. This is matched to the ‘odds’ set by the betting company, which determines how much you might win. The odds are displayed on the screen before you place your bet.
Risk: The odds of winning or losing are based on probability, which can be calculated using mathematical models. However, there are a number of psychological factors that can influence how people perceive the odds. For example, some people are more predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. Other factors can include culture, which can impact a person’s views about gambling activity and what constitutes a problem.
Any gambling behavior that causes harm or creates distress in your life could be a sign of pathological gambling. This is a condition that has a significant and persistent negative effect on a person’s quality of life. In most cases, a gambling disorder is found to co-occur with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. This is likely because these symptoms can trigger or exacerbate gambling-related problems.