GambleAware and StepChange Can Help
Over half the UK population takes part in some form of gambling activity, but for some it can have serious consequences that impact on their physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study, and cause them to go into debt. In the worst cases, it can lead to homelessness. If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, help is available from GambleAware and StepChange.
At its heart, gambling is risking money or material valuables on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It involves three essential elements: consideration, risk, and prize.
There are many different types of gambling games, including slots and table games in brick-and-mortar casinos, as well as online and mobile apps. There are also betting exchanges, where people can place bets on various events and outcomes, such as football matches, boxing matches, or horse races. A common misconception is that gambling is about winning big money, but this is not the case. The average person who gambles will lose more than they win.
Gambling can have positive economic impacts, such as generating taxes and tourism revenue, increasing employment opportunities, and stimulating growth in other sectors of the economy. However, it can also have negative effects, such as increased debt and family breakdowns. These impacts can also be felt by the wider community and society as a whole.
A key issue with gambling is that it can trigger addictive behaviours, leading to compulsive gambling and, ultimately, financial ruin. Research has shown that when people receive monetary rewards, the reward circuit in their brain becomes active. This is the same circuit that responds to food, sexual stimulation, and drugs of abuse. This is why it is so difficult to control impulsive behaviours and stop gambling.
In addition, certain individuals are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity. This can make it challenging to recognize and seek help when you have a gambling addiction, as well as making it harder to control your finances.
Another key factor in deciding whether to gamble or not is your personal values and beliefs. For example, some cultures have an ingrained belief that gambling is a normal pastime, and this can affect how you think about it. If you’re worried about your gambling habits, speak to a debt charity, such as StepChange, for free and confidential advice.
There are also a number of things you can do to try and combat your gambling addiction, such as strengthening your support network, putting someone else in charge of your money, closing your online accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on you at all times. You can also join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, there are a number of self-help books and online resources that can provide guidance and support in overcoming your gambling problems. You can also consider therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which can teach you to recognize your triggers and change unhealthy patterns of thinking.