Gambling is the wagering of something of value (a bet) on a random event with the intent to win something else of value (a prize). It involves consideration, risk, and a goal. It is important to recognize that gambling has both positive and negative effects. These impacts are observed at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society levels. Individual and interpersonal level impacts are non-monetary, and include emotional distress and social distancing. Community/society level impacts are monetary, and include general costs, costs related to problem gambling, and long-term cost/benefits.
For many people, gambling provides entertainment. It also can provide a social setting for meeting friends. Gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system, which causes the body to release chemicals that make us feel good. This is similar to how drugs stimulate the reward system, which is why some people may become addicted to drugs and gambling.
Some people who gamble can control their gambling, but others have a difficult time recognizing their problem. They may downplay or lie to family members about their gambling, or hide evidence of their activities. They may even use illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance their gambling. In addition, they might jeopardize or lose a job or educational or career opportunity because of their gambling. Moreover, problem gambling can also lead to financial problems that can strain relationships and cause bankruptcy or homelessness. Fortunately, there are ways to get help and recovery. Several programs are available to help gamblers overcome their addiction, including peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.