Gambling involves the wagering of something of value (usually money) on an event of chance with the intention of winning something else of value. Examples of gambling include horse and greyhound racing, football accumulators, lottery and casino games such as blackjack, roulette and poker.
The negative impacts of gambling can have serious consequences, including harm to a gambler’s health, performance at work or study, relationships, finances, and the physical and mental health of family members and friends. Problem gambling can also lead to debt, bankruptcy and homelessness. In addition, gambling may contribute to the development of other addictions, such as alcohol and tobacco use.
At the individual level, gambling can have negative psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety. It can also worsen pre-existing mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can also have adverse physical effects, such as insomnia, headaches and digestive problems.
In the wider community, gambling can have positive long-term economic benefits, but only if it is partly directed towards beneficial causes, such as public services or environmental protection. At a local government level, gambling can act as a catalyst for economic development, but this is only true if it attracts visitors from outside the area. Otherwise, the industry is likely to resemble a blue-chip stock rather than a growth leader. It can also have a harmful social impact, particularly when it leads to pathological gambling. This is why it’s important to seek support if you have problems with gambling. This can be in the form of a counsellor or support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the model of Alcoholics Anonymous.