Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value on a chance event with the aim of winning something else of value. It can be done by betting on sports events, lotteries, scratchcards or using the pokies. There are both negative and positive aspects of gambling. Gambling has the potential to help people with mental health problems but it can also lead to addiction and harm.
If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s gambling, StepChange can help. It’s free and confidential, and you can find out more on the StepChange website.
Negative effects of gambling have been reported by many industries and individuals, particularly in the recreational/amusement sectors and retail businesses (). There are also concerns that casinos increase competition for leisure and recreation activities and that the introduction of gambling may cause inflation, which can be a significant problem for small ventures. It is also feared that the introduction of gambling will lead to an imbalance in labour markets, causing difficulties for both the recreational/amusement and retail industries, particularly with regard to recruitment and retention of staff ().
The economic benefits of gambling are thought to include increased tourism and tax revenue, as well as impact on other industries. However, the costs of gambling are largely hidden or ignored by most studies, primarily because they are non-monetary in nature. They have been categorized by Walker  and Williams and others into three classes – financial, labor and health and well-being.
While the main reason for gambling is to win money, there are a few other side benefits which some people enjoy. For example, it can help develop personal skills such as devising and employing tactics in skill-based games or learning how to count cards or remember numbers. It can also help build social networks and provides a way of relaxing after a long day.
In addition, some people report feelings of happiness and satisfaction with life as a result of gambling. These benefits are often attributed to the psychological rewards of gambling and the sense of achievement that comes from winning. It’s important to note that these benefits are only present when gambling is done responsibly.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a complex disorder that is characterised by recurrent and persistent maladaptive patterns of behaviour. It affects approximately 0.4-1.6% of Americans, and the majority begin exhibiting signs in early adolescence or young adulthood. The etiology of PG remains unclear. Treatments based on integrated approaches have provided only limited effectiveness. New hybrid treatments that are constituted of eclectic theoretic conceptualizations of PG have also shown variable results. The emergence of new behavioural treatments is urgently needed. Ultimately, more needs to be done to understand how and why people develop PG. This will help in designing more effective interventions to tackle the problem.