Gambling Harms


Gambling is any game of chance or skill where a person stakes something of value, usually money, on the outcome of an event that is not known in advance. This can include betting on sports events, buying lottery tickets or playing cards, but it can also be more formal gambling such as casino games like roulette, poker, blackjack and craps played in brick-and-mortar casinos and online. In addition, people may gamble with materials that have a value but are not money (for example, marbles in a marbles game or collectible game pieces such as Pogs or Magic: The Gathering).

Gambling harms can have financial, emotional, physical and cultural impacts on the gambler and their family and friends. It can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, as well as addiction. People who experience gambling-related harms should seek help.

There are a number of effective treatments for gambling addiction, including cognitive-behavior therapy and support groups. These treatments teach a person how to resist irrational thoughts and behaviors, such as believing that a sequence of losses or close calls on a slot machine are signs that a big win is imminent. Support group members can help a person to develop strategies for dealing with triggers and urges to gamble, as well as to find healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings such as boredom or loneliness.

Many people who have a gambling problem can benefit from therapy, even if they do not suffer from a mental health disorder. Family and individual counseling can help a person to resolve issues that may be contributing to their gambling habits, such as unresolved conflicts or financial difficulties. In addition, couples or family counseling can teach a person healthy communication and conflict resolution skills.

In the past, the psychiatric community generally viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. However, the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has changed that. It now classifies pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder, alongside other conditions such as kleptomania and pyromania. The reclassification is intended to increase credibility for the condition, encourage screening and treatment and promote research into effective therapies.

If you are concerned about someone’s gambling behavior, speak with a trained counsellor. They can provide advice and guidance, and offer a free, confidential and non-judgmental service 24/7. Call us today or complete a short form to get started. If you need immediate assistance, please contact emergency services. You can also talk to a counsellor through our chat facility. If you are concerned that you might have a gambling problem, you can take steps to reduce your risk of losing control by taking back control of your finances. You can do this by locking away credit cards, putting someone else in charge of your finances, closing your online betting accounts and keeping a small amount of cash with you at all times. It is also important to have a plan for when you are not at home.

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