Gambling involves risking something of considerable value on an uncertain event in the hopes of winning something of even greater value. A person gambles when he or she risks losing money or belongings in situations where the outcome is mostly determined by luck. The euphoria of winning more than is risked is highly addictive. Gamblers can wager anything from money to their cars and even homes. And when they lose, they make even more bets hoping to break even.
Gambling can take place anywhere; casino, on the internet, at the gas station, schools, church halls, and so on. The activity is even more common now as a result of bet winnings running into millions and sports fantasy leagues.
Forms of Gambling
Depending on individual preference or location, gamblers engage in different forms of gambling. Some of the major forms include:
- Sports betting (soccer, golf, basketball, etc.)
- Horse track betting
- Card games
- Stock market speculation
- Internet gambling
What Are The Risks Involved In Gambling?
While gambling may not seem as destructive as the effects of alcohol or drugs, gambling has major impact on different areas of one’s life.
Family and Relationships
Gambling makes it extremely difficult to focus on and maintain a normal family life, creating stress and a negative impact on relationships and family life. Problem gamblers are more likely to get divorced or separated. When either or both parents in a home is addicted to gambling, constant arguments or fighting are the norm. The arguments could be over money, constant hounding by debt collectors, missed important events or inability to take care of the family.
Gambling affects the children too. Children of gamblers have been shown to have lower grades in school, and a high tendency to get into substance abuse or commit suicide.
Serious gamblers’ finances will naturally be unstable as they experience periods of high wins and high losses. Even in times of big wins, they might have huge debts to pay off and therefore have little or no money to show afterwards. Some of the financial difficulties that occur as a result of gambling include: bankruptcy, overdue utility bills, eviction or forced home sale, maxed out credit cards and ever growing debts.
As a result of the difficulty and to continue to support their habits, gamblers could resort to crimes such as tax evasion, credit card theft, cheque forgery, insurance fraud, fencing stolen goods, fraudulent loan applications or even armed robbery.
Work Related Risks from Gambling
Gambling can also have an adverse effect on the ability of an individual to perform well at work or school, especially when it crosses the line into addiction. Such gamblers show up late for work or even skip work days altogether to gamble. They are more likely to take sick days to create more time for their habit. Gambling therefore poses a real risk of job loss.
Gambling can result in marked reduction in productivity, because instead of focusing on the job at hand, they use the internet to gamble at work, or indulge in daydreams about their next big win. They are more likely to borrow from fellow employees, steal form work or ask employers for pay advances.
Health Related Risks of Gambling
Even if most gamblers do not see a connection between gambling and their health, the fact remains that gambling can affect one’s health. A range of mental, emotional, physical and psychological health problems have been connected to gambling.
Gamblers suffer more from anxiety, stress, attention deficiency, moodiness, obsessive-compulsive disorders, low self-esteem and clinical depression. Physical problems associated with gambling and often experienced by gamblers include fatigue, insomnia, muscular tension, high blood pressure, migraines, and stomach ailments among others. When in desperate situations or after a high loss has been suffered, gamblers are likely to resort to alcohol or drugs to cope, while others may contemplate suicide.
How to Know When You Need Help With Gambling
Studies have shown that even though gambling starts out as a form of recreation or a means of earning extra income, it can become a harmful behavioural addiction. The symptoms of gambling addiction are usually similar to symptoms of other addictions. To know when you need to get help with a gambling addiction, look out for the following signs:
- Feeling the uncontrollable need to hide gambling actions
- Gambling even when you cannot afford to
- Having difficulty controlling gambling habits
- Constant expression of fears and concerns by family members and loved ones about your gambling.
Quitting gambling can be difficult, but it can be achieved with the help of a good support group and treatment program. It is important to get help as soon as possible to avoid the serious effects of gambling.