Gambling is an activity where people risk money or something of value, such as a product, on an event with some element of randomness and chance, with the intent to win. It has been a popular past time throughout history and can take many forms, from playing casino games such as pokies or card games to betting on sporting events, horses or football accumulators, or buying lottery tickets or instant scratchcards.
Harm relates to any initial or exacerbated adverse consequence from engaging in gambling, whether it impacts on the person who engages in it or the people around them. Initially, six different thematic classifications of harm were identified, including financial harms, those relating to relationships, mental or emotional harms, impacts on work, study or economic activity, and impacts on health.
For many problem gamblers, a major cause of their harm is the impact on their families. Often family members are at their most vulnerable and desperate when confronting their loved ones’ requests for ‘just one more bet’ or arguing about their spending habits. Family members who are struggling to deal with a gambling problem should seek help as early as possible from a support service. They may also need to set boundaries when managing their loved one’s finances to reduce the likelihood of further losses. Alternatively, they might consider taking over the responsibility for managing their loved one’s credit and finances, but this is a big step to take and requires professional support.