Whether you’re buying a lottery ticket, scratching off a card or playing a slot machine, gambling involves putting something of value at risk for the potential to win more money or another prize. Some people can gamble harmlessly, but for others it can be damaging to their health, relationships, work or study performance and leave them in serious debt or even homeless. There is also a link between problematic gambling and suicide.
Gambling is a form of entertainment that has existed for thousands of years, with the first evidence dating back to 2,300 BCE when tiles were discovered in China that appeared to be a rudimentary form of lottery-type game. Regardless of the type of gambling, there are many things that can be done to help prevent problems, including:
Understanding how gambling works can also help. For example, the reward schedules in games are optimised to maximise player retention. Similarly, the brain releases dopamine when you win, which can cloud your judgement and make it difficult to stop.
It’s important to control your cash. This includes not using credit cards, ensuring that you’re only spending what you have and not borrowing to gamble. You can also reduce financial risk factors such as avoiding gambling venues, not carrying large amounts of money with you and not socialising in casinos or other gambling areas. Finding other hobbies and recreational activities to fill the gap left by gambling can also help. If you’re unsure of how to tackle problem gambling, speak to one of our counsellors, it’s free and confidential.