Gambling involves placing something of value, such as money or goods, on an event that has a chance of occurring and yielding something else of value. It includes betting on sporting events, games of chance and even business-related activities like playing online poker or horse racing. While some people gamble with the hope of winning big, others do it for fun and to socialise with friends. Some people are able to control their gambling, but others struggle with addiction and may cause harm to their family and career. It’s important to know the warning signs and seek help if you suspect you have a problem.
Some people may start to feel a ‘high’ when they gamble, triggered by the activation of their brain’s reward system. The euphoria they experience can lead them to continue gambling, even when they are losing. This is a sign of gambling addiction and it’s often difficult to break the habit.
One way to avoid becoming addicted is to only ever gamble with disposable income and not money you need for bills or rent. Another is to not gamble when you’re emotional or upset as it can make it harder to stay in control and make sound decisions. Gambling is a form of entertainment, just like going to the cinema, and it should be enjoyed in moderation with other hobbies or activities.
If you’re chasing losses, it’s also important to stop as this almost always leads to further losses and you’ll likely end up experiencing Bet Regret (the feeling of regret after a loss). Try to set money limits and stick to them so that you can enjoy the gambling experience without worrying about a financial disaster.
Many betting companies use marketing strategies to persuade punters to keep gambling. For example, they might promote their products on television or social media, using wall-to-wall sponsorship of football clubs. They also rely on a technique called partial reinforcement, which is where people see their actions rewarded some of the time but don’t receive a positive outcome 100% of the time.
Gambling can be addictive and if left uncontrolled can destroy relationships, finances and careers. But the first step is admitting you have a problem, which can be very hard for some people. If you’re struggling to break the habit, there are a number of organisations that offer support, assistance and counselling. In addition to individual and group therapy, some offer marriage, family and credit counseling for those affected by gambling addiction. It’s also worth looking into peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which are based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.