Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves risking something of value on an event determined at least in part by chance. Bingo, lottery and scratch tickets are examples of gambling as is placing a bet on a sporting event or horse race.

Some people use gambling to relieve unpleasant feelings, to socialize or as a way of passing time. Learning healthier ways to cope and relax may help people overcome their gambling addiction.


Gambling involves betting money or anything of value on an event with uncertain outcomes. The event must be legally sanctioned to be considered gambling, but it can also include games of skill such as poker or horse racing. Money earned from gambling is called ’gambling income,’ and it must be reported on tax returns.

A person who participates in a gambling activity or assists in the management of the game is called a gambler. Gambling is illegal in some jurisdictions, and it can have serious financial, psychological, physical, and social consequences for the gambler.

Some people may be predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours or impulsivity. These traits can be exacerbated by environmental or cultural factors. For example, some people may find it easier to cope with uncertainty in a certain culture.


Gambling has been around for millennia and it is thought that it may be one of our basic instincts as a species. It is also said that it can be a great way to relieve stress and have some fun.

The origins of gambling can be traced back to primitive pre-historic rituals that were based on chance. Those rituals usually consisted of throwing objects like sticks, pebbles and nuts and then interpreting the outcome.

It is believed that gambling evolved into a more formal activity when man invented the first minted currency. It became a popular pastime in ancient Rome and was even regulated and punishable. It remained popular until controlled gambling environments, or casinos, were invented in the 1600s. Gambling then grew to include many different forms like roulette, blackjack and poker.


Gambling is a worldwide activity, taking many forms. For example, people can bet on horse races, dog races, football games, lottery games, card games (including poker and blackjack), video poker, dice, roulett, marbles, pogs, Magic: The Gathering cards, and other collectible items.

Gambling is a highly competitive activity, and businesses employ a variety of marketing techniques to attract customers. For example, they offer easy credit and low prices of entry ($1 lottery tickets, nickel slots). Research on reinforcement and conditioning indicates that multiple and variable rewards in gambling situations evoke more bets and higher bet amounts than single, consistent rewards. Moreover, social groups can exert peer pressure to limit gambling spending. For example, men who frequent the racetrack develop a close subculture of racing lore and trade tips with each other.


Whether your loved one gambles at casinos, in online gambling sites or at the racetrack, an addiction to gambling can strain relationships and lead to financial disaster. They may even resort to illegal activities like fraud and stealing to fund their habit. This is a serious red flag and needs to be addressed immediately.

Pathological gamblers often lie to themselves to justify their gambling behaviours, even if they are hurting themselves or others. This is a natural psychological response to reduce the feeling of cognitive dissonance that comes with behaving in ways that contradict your values and beliefs.

Talking to a counsellor can be helpful in addressing this issue. They can help you identify triggers and find new hobbies that will replace gambling as a pastime. They can also help you reduce financial risk factors and stop borrowing money or using credit cards to fund your gambling habits.


There are a number of treatment options available for gambling addiction. These options include psychotherapy, medication and self-help groups. Generally, psychotherapy is attempted first and, if it is unsuccessful, medications are added. These treatments are usually goal-oriented and focus on identifying external triggers and practicing new behaviours.

Many people with a gambling disorder use the activity to relieve depression and anxiety. They may also use it to cope with financial problems or family difficulties, which can exacerbate the gambling problem.

Attempting to help a friend or loved one with gambling disorder can be difficult. It is important to set boundaries in managing money, and not give in to their requests for loans or other forms of credit. It is also helpful to seek therapy for the underlying mood disorders that can trigger or make worse a gambling disorder.