Gambling is the act of risking money or something else of value on an event or game with a chance of winning more than what you staked. It can take many forms, from betting on football matches or playing scratchcards to casino games and sports wagering. For some, gambling can be a fun pastime but for others it can become a serious addiction that causes financial and personal problems.
Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by maladaptive patterns of behavior and can lead to significant distress, family conflict, work-related problems and other serious consequences. PG typically develops in adolescence and young adulthood and the majority of people who develop it are male.
There is a long history of legal prohibition of gambling, often on moral or religious grounds, to prevent criminal activities associated with gambling such as mafia-style gambling and to preserve public order in areas where gambling has been linked to violent disputes. However, since the late 20th century there has been a gradual softening of attitudes and a relaxation of laws against gambling.
There are several things you can try to help combat the urge to gamble. Postponing gambling can be helpful – telling yourself you’ll wait five minutes, fifteen minutes or even an hour may allow the urge to pass or weaken. Distracting yourself with other activities is another good way to combat the urge. You could also seek out support from a friend or relative, contact a gambling helpline or attend a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. Having an outsider to talk to can be especially useful because they don’t have any emotional attachment to the gambling activity and are able to provide unbiased support.