What You Need to Know About Gambling

About Gambling

Gambling is an activity in which a person risks something of value, such as money or possessions, on activities that are characterized by an element of randomness or uncertainty. It can take many forms, including playing card games and board games for money or chips, placing bets with friends on the outcome of football or horse races, or speculating on business or insurance (Clotfelter and Cook, 1989). Skill may help improve the odds of winning in some gambling activities. For example, a knowledge of strategy can increase one’s chances of success in certain card games and the ability to assess horses and jockeys will improve predictions of probable outcomes in horse racing and football accumulators (Bruce and Johnson, 1996).

People gamble for many reasons. Some do it to win money, while others gamble for social or entertainment purposes. Some people also have a genetic predisposition for thrill-seeking and impulsive behavior, and studies of brain anatomy show that there are differences in the way people process reward information and control impulses.

Some forms of gambling are more likely to lead to addiction than others, but no form of gambling is universally addictive. People who gamble for recreation often develop a problem when they combine the desire to win with the psychological, emotional, and social consequences of addiction (Gambling). Family members of people with gambling problems should seek support and consider attending group therapy for problem gamblers such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Other forms of support may include individual counseling, marriage, family, and career counseling, and financial management.