Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. It’s often considered a fun pastime but can have many negative side effects including debt, addiction, and mental health problems.
Gambling has been around for thousands of years. In fact, tiles unearthed in ancient China date back to 2,300 B.C. which appear to be the earliest known gambling games. It’s also a common source of entertainment for friends and family, with many people even taking groups of their closest friends to casinos and sports betting sites to gamble together.
But despite the obvious risks of gambling, there are some positives too. For example, it’s a great way to socialize with friends and meet new people, especially when it comes to online gambling sites where you can play for free. Gambling can also help boost a person’s intelligence, as the strategic thinking and decision-making involved in some games require higher levels of brain activity.
The physiological effects of gambling are well-known too, with players feeling excited and uplifted when they make a successful bet. This is due to the release of dopamine in the brain, which produces the ‘feel-good’ hormone. However, it’s important to remember that players feel just as happy when they lose a bet. This is because our brains can be fooled by the ‘gambler’s fallacy’, where we believe that we’re due for a win and can recoup our losses by gambling more.
Other negative outcomes from gambling include heightened tensions in marriages and relationships, domestic violence, and a higher incidence of depression and anxiety. Problem gambling has also been linked to thoughts of suicide in some individuals. It can also cause financial issues with families, with some individuals racking up debt and even going into bankruptcy. There are also social costs associated with gambling, such as the cost of repairing broken relationships, and a loss of productivity at work for those who gamble excessively.
To minimise the harms of gambling, it’s recommended to only ever gamble with money you can afford to lose and to never chase your losses. It’s also important to set limits for yourself, such as a weekly limit for how much time and money you’re going to spend gambling. It’s also vital to avoid drinking alcohol while gambling, as this can lead to reckless betting and increase your chances of chasing losses. If you think your gambling is getting out of control, speak to a debt advisor to get help and advice.