Gambling is fun, exciting and potentially lucrative but it can also be risky. It is important to know how gambling works, what the risks are and how to play responsibly.
Gambling involves risking money or something of value on an event whose outcome is influenced by chance, such as betting on a football match or playing a scratchcard. A gambler is paid if they predict correctly the outcome of the game – but if they’re wrong, they lose the amount they bet. There are many different types of gambling including lotteries, casino games, sports betting and online gaming.
While the majority of people are able to enjoy gambling in a responsible manner, some individuals develop an addiction which can lead to financial devastation and strained relationships. Addiction to gambling can also have adverse effects on a person’s mental health, and some studies suggest that the underlying cause may be a genetic predisposition to impulsivity or reward-seeking behaviour.
External costs of gambling are often invisible to the individual and can be seen at the community/society level – for example, gamblers’ debts can affect their family members’ finances and lifestyles. However, it is difficult to measure and quantify the external costs of gambling. In order to calculate the full impact of gambling, it is necessary to use longitudinal research methods and consider a wide range of impacts including monetary, personal, interpersonal and social/community/environmental. Using this approach can help to improve the quality of research and identify the key factors influencing gambling participation.