Gambling is wagering something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value where instances of strategy are discounted. The event can be as small as a roll of the dice, or as large as a horse race or sports contest. There are three elements to gambling: consideration, risk and a prize.
People gamble to feel good and enjoy the experience of winning or losing. They do this by activating the brain’s reward center, just like when they spend time with friends, eat delicious food or exercise. The body produces adrenaline and dopamine when a person makes a bet, causing them to feel happy and excited. In addition, a person may feel more confident and self-confident when they win money.
However, it is possible to have an addiction to gambling and this can have negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study and finances, as well as lead to debt and even homelessness. There is also a link between gambling and suicidal thoughts.
Some people may not realise they have a problem and they can start to hide or lie about their gambling behaviour. They can also rely on others to fund their gambling activities or replace what they have lost, and this can affect family, friends and colleagues. If you find it difficult to stop gambling, speak to StepChange for free and confidential debt advice. You can also try to strengthen your support network and consider joining a peer group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.