Gambling is an activity in which people stake something of value on the outcome of a game of chance or skill. It can involve the use of money, possessions, prizes or services. It is known to cause harm to individuals and communities, particularly when it is carried out with large amounts of money or when it leads to addictive behaviours. Gambling can be found in a variety of settings such as casinos, racing tracks, horse racing venues, and online. The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to ancient China, where tiles have been unearthed that appear to be used in a rudimentary game of chance, similar to a lottery-type game.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the impact of gambling on society. Many governments have begun to regulate the industry, and research into gambling is ongoing. However, despite its widespread popularity and accessibility, it is still a dangerous and harmful activity for many people. Currently, there is no universally accepted definition of Gambling and the existing landscape of gambling research and policy uses inadequate proxy measures of harm, such as problem gambling symptomology, that limit our understanding of gambling harm.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a severe and recurrent pattern of maladaptive gambling behaviors that meets diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). PG typically begins during adolescence or young adulthood and is more prevalent in males than females. PG is more common in strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack and poker, than in nonstrategic forms of gambling, such as slot machines and bingo.
The underlying etiology of PG remains unclear. The evidence to date suggests that PG is an addictive and chronic process, characterized by recurrent and relapsing episodes of gambling behavior accompanied by negative consequences. The most commonly reported consequences are: a desire to continue gambling even after experiencing adverse effects (chasing losses); lying to family members, therapists or others about the extent of involvement in gambling; and jeopardizing relationships, employment or education opportunities or using illegal activities to finance gambling.
A key step in overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that there is a problem. This can be difficult, especially if your loved one has been hiding their gambling or lying to you about it. The next step is to seek help. Talking to a therapist who specialises in gambling addiction can help you understand what’s happening and how to deal with it. We can match you with a professional, licensed and vetted therapist who will support you in your journey to recovery. We’re free, confidential and available 24/7.