Gambling is when people risk something valuable (like money or their lives) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. It can be done with physical things like marbles or collectable card games, but also with virtual money, such as online casino gaming and sports betting. People gamble for a variety of reasons – some people want to win lots of money, others enjoy the social interaction and thrill of gambling. For some, it’s a way to cope with anxiety or depression.
Problem gambling can have negative effects on the person who gambles, their family and friends and on society. These harms can include financial, health, emotional and cultural impacts. Some of these harms are short term, while others may be long-term or recurrent.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people seeking help for gambling problems. This is partly due to the availability of more treatment services, and increased awareness about the risks of gambling. However, it is important that there is greater focus on understanding the complexity of the gambling problem. It is a complex issue that involves a variety of factors including the nature of gambling, societal attitudes towards it and other behaviours that can influence or cause it.
While the concept of gambling is well established, there remains much debate about what it means to have a gambling problem. There are a range of definitions used by different disciplines, researchers and agencies. This article aims to discuss some of these definitions and how they are related to one another.
A Functional Definition
One of the most significant limitations of existing definitions of gambling is that they focus on symptomatology or the presence of specific behavioural symptoms. This approach misses the fact that gambling harms are often a combination of both behavioural and psychological consequences, and that they can occur across a wide range of domains in a person’s life.
In order to capture this breadth of experience and the multi-faceted ways in which gambling harms manifest, it is appropriate that a functional definition should incorporate a conceptual framework for gambling related harm that is consistent with a social model of health.
The framework includes a definition of harm for the person who gambles, their affected others and the community as a whole, a set of categories or indicators that capture a broad range of potential gambling related harms, and a mechanism that supports the use of this new definition in research, policy and practice.
The most common cause of a gambling disorder is a misperception of probability and the belief that certain rituals can bring luck or improve their chances of winning. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to address these beliefs and change how people think about gambling. It can also help people to understand their reasons for gambling, and why they become addicted. This can help them to take control of their behaviour and make healthier choices in the future.