Gambling: Costs and Harms

Gambling is an activity where players place wagers on a game or event with an uncertain outcome. It can involve betting on sports, horse races or even the lottery. In addition, many people gamble by playing casino games, such as slot machines and video poker, or through skill-based gambling activities like blackjack, keno and poker, where the participants use pattern recognition, math skills and tactical thinking to beat the house edge.

While there are several positive effects associated with gambling, it is important to recognize that it also creates costs and harms. These impacts manifest at the personal, interpersonal and community/society level. The personal impact involves gamblers themselves, while the interpersonal and societal impacts affect others who are not gamblers themselves. Gambling-related harms include increased debt and financial strain (affecting family members) as well as the escalation of financial problems to bankruptcy and homelessness.

When attempting to address problem gambling, it is important to be aware that it can take time and effort to change your behavior. If you are struggling to overcome a gambling addiction, there is help available, such as inpatient treatment and rehab programs. It is also a good idea to strengthen your support network. For example, you could try spending more time with friends who don’t gamble or join a peer support group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, you can try to manage your own finances and credit by setting limits on how much money you will spend on gambling.