Public Health and Gambling

Gambling is a form of play in which people stake something of value, usually money, with the hope of winning something else of value. A game of chance is a gamble, as are lotteries and sports betting. In addition, gambling may be done with other materials that have a value, such as marbles or collectible game pieces.

Many types of gambling are legal in the United States, including online and land-based casinos. Whether the activity is legal or not, it can have negative financial, physical, emotional, and cultural impacts on individuals. For instance, those who have a problem with gambling often have trouble in school and at work. The habit can also cause serious debt and even homelessness. It can affect families and friendships, and lead to health problems, such as depression.

The underlying mood disorders that can trigger gambling problems can also make it difficult to quit. Some of the common ones include anxiety, depression, stress, and substance abuse. Getting help for these conditions is important. People with compulsive gambling can benefit from inpatient or residential programs.

The term “harm minimisation” is used in public health policy to refer to the reduction of negative consequences associated with gambling. However, this term is problematic in that it lacks a consistent definition of harm and is too focused on outcome measures, which are too limited to capture the breadth and experience of harm. Instead, it is better to define harmful behaviour as the behaviour that generates and exacerbates gambling related harms.