Gambling Disorders


Gambling is the act of risking something of value (typically money) on an event with an element of chance, for which the outcome can be either a win or a loss. A person may gamble on events such as sports matches, horse races, lotteries, scratch cards, casino games, card games, dice and keno. Gambling can also take place with material objects that have a monetary value, such as marbles or collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, in which players wager game pieces against one another for the right to play or advance their collections.

Although gambling is a popular pastime for many people and can be a fun way to socialize, it can also be addictive. Problem gamblers can lose their families, jobs and even their lives due to gambling addiction. In addition to causing financial problems, gambling can also damage relationships and lead to mental health issues. Those who have a gambling addiction should seek help and treatment as soon as possible.

While the idea of winning big in a casino or on the pokies may appeal to some, most of us know that it’s not that easy. In fact, the chances of losing money are much greater than the chances of winning. It’s important to understand the house edge and how it works in order to reduce your risk of gambling. You can do this by playing games with the lowest house edge, learning betting strategies and knowing when to walk away.

A number of psychological factors can contribute to gambling disorders, including cognitive and motivational biases. These biases can distort a person’s perception of the odds of an event and influence their preferences for certain types of gambles. Gambling may also be used as a coping strategy for unpleasant emotions, such as boredom or depression. For example, a person might gamble after a difficult day at work or after an argument with their spouse. There are healthier and more effective ways to relieve unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies and practicing relaxation techniques.

In addition to these factors, a gambling disorder can be triggered by stress, drug and alcohol use, and family history. Research suggests that problem gambling usually begins in adolescence or young adulthood and can be exacerbated by stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one.

The ability to resist gambling temptations is a learned behavior. It is also helpful to have a strong support network, such as a therapist who specializes in addiction or a sponsor in Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous that helps individuals overcome their gambling disorder. Ultimately, the best way to deal with gambling addiction is to prevent it in the first place. If you have a problem with gambling, speak to one of our counsellors today. It’s free and confidential.