What is Gambling?

Gambling is an activity where a person risks something of value (money or property) in the hope of winning. It is typically a recreational and social activity, but can also be a source of income or profit. Gambling can take many forms including card games, fruit machines and video-draw poker, two-up and casino games, horse and greyhound racing, football accumulators and lotteries. It can also involve taking financial risks such as speculating on business, insurance or stocks and shares.

Problem gambling can impact a person’s health, relationships and work performance, lead to debt or homelessness, cause damage to property, and contribute to mental illness and even suicide. It can also increase poverty in affected individuals and in the communities/societies.

The risk of gambling disorder is higher in people with psychotic disorders, in deprived areas and among lower socioeconomic groups. In addition, it tends to run in families. Some people may be predisposed to gamble due to a genetic or biological predisposition for thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity.

Getting help is the first step to dealing with gambling disorder. Counselling can help you understand your gambling habits and think about other ways to spend your time. Several types of counselling are available, including family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling. You can also find support by joining a gambling recovery program such as Gamblers Anonymous, based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It can be hard to recognise a gambling problem, especially if it has been hidden or denied for a long time.

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