Gambling is an activity that involves placing something of value on a random event or outcome with the intention of winning a prize. This may include casino games such as blackjack, poker and roulette; betting on sports events such as horse racing or football accumulators; lottery tickets; or other forms of speculation such as business, insurance or stock market investments.
While some people gamble for fun or to make money, others become addicted to gambling and lose control of their lives. This can affect their relationships with family and friends, their ability to work or study and their financial security. In severe cases, it can lead to depression, debt and even homelessness. In the UK, more than half of the population takes part in some form of gambling. But it’s important to remember that gambling is a dangerous habit and you should never gamble more than you can afford to lose.
Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors. Approximately 0.4%-1.6% of the population meet a PG diagnosis and usually begin to experience problems with gambling in adolescence or early adulthood. Those with a PG diagnosis tend to prefer nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling such as slot machines and bingo. They often report lying to a family member or therapist about the extent of their involvement with gambling and have jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of it. Those with a PG diagnosis also typically experience high comorbidity with other mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.