How Can Gambling Affect Your Life?

April 4, 2024 by No Comments

Gambling is an activity where people put something of value at risk on a game of chance, such as playing card games or putting money into a scratchcard. It can also be placing bets on sporting events or the outcome of elections. Some people use gambling to socialise with friends, or to relieve boredom or stress. Others are attracted by the dream of winning.

When people gamble, their brains release dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. This is why some people find it difficult to stop gambling once they’ve started. But this is not the only factor that can lead to problem gambling. Other factors include:

A person’s mental health and life circumstances can influence whether they become addicted to gambling. This includes their ability to recognise the signs that gambling is a problem, as well as being able to control their emotions. In addition, a person’s culture and beliefs can affect their attitudes towards gambling and what constitutes a gambling problem.

Those with low incomes are at greater risk of developing gambling disorder than those with higher incomes. Moreover, young people, especially men, are more susceptible to gambling addiction than older adults. This may be because they have more to lose and less experience of handling money and weighing risks. There are also genetic and psychological predispositions that can make some individuals more vulnerable to gambling problems.

The way the brain processes risk, reward and impulsivity can also impact how much a person gambles. For example, some people have a pre-existing condition that makes them more sensitive to the pleasure generated by the drug dopamine, while other people may have an underactive brain reward system. These differences can influence how a person perceives the odds of an event, which could impact their preference for particular bets.

Some people can easily walk away from a round of poker or a slot machine session, but others can’t. For some, this becomes a serious issue and leads to gambling addiction. People who struggle to stop gambling can develop a ‘tolerance’ to dopamine and other chemicals that trigger the sensation of euphoria. As their tolerance grows, they need to bet more and more to generate the same feeling, and can fall into a vicious cycle.

Gambling is a huge industry with many different kinds of gambling. Research on gambling impacts can be conducted from a variety of approaches, but most studies focus on the costs and benefits of gambling. This approach can be misleading, as it neglects the long term impacts on a community/society, such as increased crime and decreased wellbeing, which are often hard to quantify. A broader and more inclusive view is the economic cost-benefit analysis (CBA). This approach takes into account both the monetary value of harms and the intangible benefits to society. It is a good model for studying the impacts of gambling and can help identify opportunities for prevention or treatment strategies. It can also inform policy decisions.