Gambling is a risk-taking activity whereby an individual wagers something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. The gambler hopes that he or she will ‘win,’ and gain something of value (money, an object or an experience).
Most people are familiar with gambling through slot machines, casinos and other forms of betting. However, there are many other types of gambling, including sports pools and lottery tickets.
The term ‘gambling’ covers a wide range of activities, from the purely chance-based such as playing roulette or blackjack to the more skill-based such as playing poker or bingo. The key to making a rational choice about whether or not to gamble is to consider the probabilities of various outcomes, the rewards that can be expected from winning and losing, and the ratio of these factors.
Often the odds are designed to work against you, and the rewards are designed to make you want to continue gambling. These odds are called ‘payout ratios’ and they are set by the bookmaker according to actuarial data.
If you gamble regularly and find it hard to resist the temptation, you may have a problem with gambling. It is important to recognise that this is a problem and to get help.
Postpone or stop the urge to gamble: When you have an urge to gamble, tell yourself that you will wait a few minutes, and that you will try to distract yourself. You can also do some relaxation exercises, such as visualization, to help you deal with the urge to gamble.
Treat the problem as an addiction: If you feel that your gambling has become a serious issue, see a doctor or counsellor. They can help you deal with your gambling problem and make sure that it does not affect your family or relationships.
Realise that gambling is a problem: This is the most difficult step to take, but it is essential. It takes tremendous strength and courage to realise that you have a gambling problem and to be honest about it with yourself and others.
Adopt a healthier approach to gambling: This is the best way to minimise the risks of developing a problem with gambling. It can be helpful to keep a budget for gambling, which will help you know how much money you have and whether or not you can afford to spend it.
Use your money wisely: Using credit cards to gamble is not a good idea as it can increase your chances of becoming a victim of fraud. It is also a good idea to limit how much cash you keep on you at any one time and to close your online betting accounts if possible.
Identify the causes of your problem: When you realise that you are having a problem, it is important to recognise the reasons why you have started gambling. It can be useful to consider if you have a family history of problem gambling, or are struggling with other problems such as low self-esteem or depression.