The Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. It can involve playing card games such as poker, dice or roulette, a horse race or football accumulator bet, scratchcards or casino table games. It can also involve speculating on financial markets and events such as political elections.

Gambling is often thought to be purely about chance, but it is actually a complex and well-organised industry that relies on people making choices and taking risks in order to turn a profit. The gambling industry employs a large number of people, from dealers and odds compilers to marketing staff. It is also important to remember that gambling is not a one-man show; it is run by real businesses who must make money in order to stay in business and pay their employees.

Problem gambling affects everyone differently and is not solely a financial issue. It can cause relationships to break down and affect jobs and education. It can also cause stress, anxiety and depression. It is important to seek help if you think that someone you know may be suffering from this.

There are many warning signs that indicate a gambler has become problematic. These include:

A person may secretly gamble and lie about their behavior to loved ones. They might spend more and more time on gambling and begin to rely on other people to fund or replace their losses. They may start to berate themselves for losing or try to convince themselves that they are due a big win.

When a person gambles, they choose a bet and then match it to the ‘odds’ set by the betting company or operator. This is usually a number that indicates how much they might win if they are correct. This might be a number such as 1/1 or 5/2. This number is then matched to the event they are betting on, such as a football game or scratchcard.

The reason why gambling can become addictive is that it triggers the release of dopamine, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter. When you win, your brain rewards this positive experience, so you want to repeat it. This can lead to a vicious cycle, where you continue to gamble and are unable to stop even when it is damaging your health, finances or relationships.

The first step in overcoming gambling addiction is recognising that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to admit this to yourself or to others. But it is vital to seek help to get back on track, especially if you have lost a lot of money and struggled with other problems as a result of your gambling habits. You can get support with BetterHelp, an online therapy service that matches you to therapists for mental health issues including depression and gambling problems. You can take our short assessment now to see if BetterHelp is right for you.