Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intention of winning a prize. This can be anything from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot. Gambling can be found in many forms, including casino games like slots and table games, sports betting, lottery games, and online gambling. Although gambling can be a fun and harmless pastime for some, it can also become a serious addiction that causes financial and personal problems.
Gambling can have impacts at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society levels (Fig. 1). The individual and interpersonal level impacts are mostly non-monetary and affect gamblers directly. These include emotional stress, financial strain, and loss of family and friendships. Interpersonal impacts can turn into societal or community-level costs, such as increased social services use, debt escalation, and homelessness.
Community/societal level impacts are mostly monetary in nature and involve those outside of the gambler. These can include the impact of gambling on society at large, such as increased public service use and decreased economic activity, as well as the effect of problem gambling on individuals and families, such as strained relationships, depression, or substance abuse.
If you suspect you have a problem with gambling, it’s important to seek help. Talk to a therapist, who can work with you on addressing the underlying issues that cause your gambling disorder. You can also seek out peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is a 12-step recovery program based on the model of Alcoholics Anonymous.