Gambling is an activity in which participants place bets on events with an element of chance. It is popular worldwide and includes games such as poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and horse racing, and also activities such as sports betting and lottery games. Depending on the rules and regulations of a particular jurisdiction, gambling can involve the wagering of money or other items of value.
While some people use gambling as a form of entertainment and to socialise, for others the activity can become an addiction. It can also have a negative impact on their mental health, causing them to feel stressed and anxious. For this reason, it is important to seek help if you believe you are suffering from a gambling problem.
Some of the most common reasons for people to gamble include:
The thrill of winning:
When you win a bet, your body produces a feel-good neurotransmitter called dopamine, which makes you happy and excited. However, this chemical release occurs regardless of whether you are winning or losing, so it’s easy to continue placing bets and risking more money.
The socialization benefits of gambling:
While you may not get the same satisfaction from a game of poker as from watching a football match, many people enjoy playing casino games with friends. The socialization aspect of gambling means that people spend time together and can chat about the results of their bets, making it a great group activity.
A sense of achievement:
Many people consider a big jackpot or other gambling win as a form of success and a sign that they are getting better at what they do. As such, they tend to play more often and even increase the size of their bets. This can be a dangerous cycle, as bigger bets have greater risks and therefore higher potential losses.
The bandwagon effect:
Research has found that people who surround themselves with other gamblers are more likely to gamble. This is because they are influenced by the actions and decisions of those around them, leading them to make knee-jerk and ill-informed bets. It can also lead to a distorted sense of reality, as gamblers become convinced that other gamblers have more knowledge or expertise than them.
It is possible to overcome a gambling habit. If you have concerns about your own gambling behaviour, speak to one of our counsellors. They can provide free, confidential and expert advice.
It’s important to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and never with money that you need for bills or essential expenses. You should also try to limit how long you gamble and set money and time limits. Also, don’t chase your losses – this is more likely to lead to further losses. Finally, only gamble in a licensed, legal environment.