How to Recognise a Gambling Problem


Gambling is the act of placing a bet on an event that has a high chance of happening, where risk and prize are involved. It is a popular pastime and can be enjoyed by most people when it is done in moderation. It is also a source of revenue for some countries and stimulates local economies. However, it can be harmful for some people. People who gamble too much can end up with a lot of stress, which in turn can impact their relationships, work performance and mental health. This can have a negative effect on family members, friends and colleagues. This is why it is important to know how to recognise a gambling problem and get help if needed.

The term gambling is often used to refer to a range of different activities, including betting on sporting events, playing cards and other games of skill, online casinos and lottery-like games. It is important to distinguish between these activities and the disorder known as pathological gambling, which has been linked to addiction, mental illness and moral turpitude. Pathological gambling has been associated with many different issues, such as poor math skills, loss of control, impaired judgment, denial and cognitive distortions. This disorder can affect anyone who is exposed to gambling, and it is estimated that it affects around 1 in every 10 adults.

Some people who are addicted to gambling can’t stop, even after they have lost a significant amount of money. They are driven by the desire to experience a feeling of euphoria, which is created by the release of dopamine in their brain. This is a similar response to the one that happens when someone takes drugs.

It is important to note that, unlike drugs, the chances of winning do not increase or decrease with each new bet. This is because gambling is based on random events and the outcome of each individual event is completely independent of any previous outcomes. However, the human brain is very good at rationalising these probabilities and convincing itself that it is possible to ‘balance’ out a series of losses by betting more. This is the basis of the gambler’s fallacy.

Those who are addicted to gambling use it as a form of escapism, and they often do it to meet certain needs that they haven’t been able to fulfil in other ways. These include the need for status and belonging, which is often cultivated in casinos through elaborate marketing strategies. They may also be using it to deal with boredom or to escape stressful life experiences. Other factors that contribute to gambling addiction include the size of an early big win, the ability to replicate this behaviour, impulsivity, a misunderstood sense of chance and the use of escape coping strategies. All of these factors can be combined to create a toxic combination that is hard to break. Our Safeguarding Courses offer training that can help you identify and respond to the potential risks of gambling with vulnerable people.