The Negative Effects of Gambling


Gambling is the placing of something of value (often money) on an event with a chance of winning a substantial prize. It has existed for centuries, with ancient Greeks and Romans gambling on knucklebones or ‘astragals’ (similar to modern dice and dominoes). In more recent times, it has become an increasingly popular leisure activity, with many people participating in casino games, lottery, horse racing, poker, bingo, slot machines, scratch cards, instant scratch tickets, sports betting, and even playing online video games. It can be a rewarding and exciting social activity, but it can also have negative personal, family, financial, and health impacts.

In the literature, these negative effects of gambling are often examined from a cost of illness perspective, as is common in alcohol and drug abuse research. However, this approach overlooks the positive aspects of gambling that benefit society [35].

Problem gamblers have a negative impact on their families, friends, and co-workers. They also create financial strain and debt that may result in bankruptcy or homelessness. They may lie to conceal their behavior or make excuses for their involvement with gambling, such as “I just need this one last time.” Families of problem gamblers are encouraged to seek counseling (individual or family) to help them understand the issue and learn how to cope.

Some individuals who struggle with gambling addiction have found success in recovery through peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This program is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and includes a 12-step process to recover from compulsive gambling and maintain long-term abstinence from the habit. Other recovery methods include individual and group therapy, and a supportive network of peers, such as friends and co-workers.

The best way to reduce the risk of gambling addiction is to set limits on how much you can play. Decide how much you’re willing to lose, and always stick to that limit. It’s also important to establish an emergency fund, which will help you avoid using your credit card or a loan to finance gambling. Finally, make sure to stay hydrated when gambling, as dehydration can lead to confusion and a loss of control. You should also take breaks when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and don’t gamble when you’re tired. Also, don’t gamble with your credit card, and never use it to purchase food or drinks at casinos. These actions can trigger a relapse.