What is a Gambling Disorder?

Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is based on chance. It can be done in a variety of ways, including playing cards or board games for money, participating in a sports betting pool, buying lottery tickets, or making wagers on horse races, sports events, or other things. It is considered a game of chance because the outcome is based on luck, rather than skill or knowledge. In some cases, a person who gambles may develop a gambling disorder. This is when a person is unable to control their gambling behavior and it causes significant harm or distress.

People who have a gambling disorder may be able to change their behavior with help from professionals. A therapist or counselor can help them understand why they gamble and discuss the impact it has on their life. Counseling can also help a person decide on a plan to stop gambling. In addition, a therapist can help a person think about other activities they might enjoy doing instead of gambling. A therapist can also help with any co-occurring mood disorders that may be contributing to the problem, such as depression or anxiety.

A therapist can also teach people healthy coping mechanisms, such as relaxation techniques and other self-soothing strategies. They can also help them find healthier ways to relieve boredom and stress, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up a new hobby.

While many people do not suffer from a gambling disorder, it is important to recognize the warning signs and get help if needed. If you or someone you know is concerned about gambling, talk to your GP, a psychologist, a community health worker, or contact a problem gambling service. Some of these services are available online and through phone or email.

Those who have a problem with gambling often use it to cope with other problems in their lives, such as stress or depression. They may lie to family members, therapists, or employers about their gambling, and they may try to hide or manipulate their finances. Some people even resort to illegal acts, such as forgery or fraud, to finance their gambling habits. In extreme cases, a person who has a gambling disorder may end up losing their home or rely on others to bail them out of financial trouble.

Changing your behavior is the best way to prevent gambling addiction, but it can be hard. The first step is to control your bankroll, which is the amount of money you set aside for gambling. It is also important to avoid gambling with your credit card or checking account. If you need help, see a therapist or counselor who specializes in gambling addiction and seek support from your family and friends. You may also want to consider a support group for people who have gambling issues, as this can be very helpful. See the Better Health Channel fact sheet ‘Gambling and financial issues’ for more information about managing your money.