Gambling is a type of wagering where people bet something of value (known as the stake) on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It can be done on a variety of events, from sporting contests to card games and lottery draws. In some cases the risk is offset by a reward, known as the prize or jackpot. People who are addicted to gambling may find themselves in a vicious cycle, betting more and more money until they are out of control. They can also end up in debt, putting themselves and their families at financial risk.
Trying to break this cycle can be extremely difficult. For those who suffer from a severe addiction, inpatient and residential rehab programmes can be a lifeline, offering round-the-clock support and treatment for problem gambling.
The costs of gambling are complex and often hidden. As well as the obvious cost of money, there are opportunity costs – the things you could be doing instead – and psychological, social and relationship costs. The way people gamble can also have a big impact on their health and wellbeing.
If you are concerned about someone’s gambling habits, speak to a debt counsellor at StepChange for free and confidential advice. You can also get help from organisations such as Gamblers Anonymous, which provides a 12-step recovery programme based on Alcoholics Anonymous. They can also offer help to family and friends who are affected by the issue. Other ways of reducing the urge to gamble include strengthening your support network, finding healthy ways to relieve boredom and stress, and practicing relaxation techniques.