What is Gambling and How Does it Affect You?


Gambling involves placing something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. Unlike games of skill, the chance of winning depends on the probability of the random event occurring. It is also affected by an individual’s genetic predisposition and a range of psychological factors, including impulsivity, boredom susceptibility, a poor understanding of random events, use of escape coping, depression, stress, and life experiences. These factors are present in people with a problem gambling disorder and contribute to the development of a gambling addiction.

Many people with a gambling problem develop their problem due to repeated exposure to risk and uncertainty, which results in changes to the brain’s reward pathway. This means that the brain becomes conditioned to the activity and the thrill of possible wins begins to diminish. People with a gambling problem are also more sensitive to losses and tend to invest more time and money in attempts to make up for previous losses. This can lead to financial and emotional problems.

For some individuals, gambling is an enjoyable pastime that allows them to socialise and enhance their mental development and skills. In addition, it can help them to escape from stressful life situations, such as grief or boredom. It can also be a lucrative career, with some making a living from their gambling activities.

For others, however, it can become an all-consuming obsession, resulting in serious harm to their health, relationships and finances. Problem gamblers may not realise they have a problem until it has impacted on their family, work and other areas of their life.