Gambling is betting on an event that will occur – it could be a football match, a lottery draw or buying a scratchcard. The choice you make is matched to ‘odds’ (eg 5/1 or 2/1, which determine how much money you will get if you win). The odds are set by the gambling company and are decided in part by chance.
For many people, gambling can be a fun diversion that gives them a thrill when they win money. However, for some it becomes a serious problem that can affect relationships, work and finances. It is important to recognise when your gambling has gone from fun to harmful and seek help if this happens.
Problem gambling can affect anyone from any background or walk of life. It can begin in childhood or adolescence, and it can run in families. It can also be linked to other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
There are a variety of treatments for gambling problems, including cognitive behavioural therapy. This will help you examine your beliefs and attitudes around betting, such as believing that you are more likely to win than you really are or thinking that certain rituals can increase your luck. It can also teach you to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques. Setting boundaries in managing money is also important – it may be helpful to let someone else take charge of your credit cards and close online betting accounts.