While most people have gambled at some point in their lives, some have a gambling disorder. In the past, treatment for pathological gambling has been inconsistent. This is due to the fact that different approaches to the etiology of the problem have been adopted and they may conflict with each other. Furthermore, many of these treatments are based on eclectic theoretic conceptualizations of pathology and fail to address key issues. Nevertheless, recent developments suggest that future studies and treatments can be more effective if they are based on a shared understanding of the nature of pathological gambling.
Gambling is the act of risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance and which cannot be repaid. Whether the activity takes place at an online casino or a physical gambling establishment, the process is essentially the same: The gambler makes a choice – whether it be on a football match or a scratchcard – and then matches this to ‘odds’ set by the betting company, which determine how much the gambler could win.
The positive aspects of gambling can include the ability to make extra income or improve a person’s financial situation, and the educational opportunities it provides in terms of learning strategy and risk management. Gambling also gives people an opportunity to meet new friends and socialize, and can lead to a sense of achievement if they do well in a game.
The negative side of gambling can include problems with money, relationships, and health and well-being. The impact of gambling can be seen at personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels (see Fig. 1).