Gambling involves wagering something of value (including money) on an uncertain event that is not under one’s control or influence. This may include games of chance and/or skill, but excludes bona fide business transactions and contracts valid under the law, such as a contract to purchase or sell an asset at a future date, a promise of insurance or a guarantee against loss or damage. It also excludes the act of pursuing or trying to recover a previous loss.
The data gathered during this study showed that harms experienced by people who engage in gambling can vary in severity and intensity. They are often not realised as an immediate problem, as they occur over time and can impact on many aspects of life. Nevertheless, they can be significant and cause substantial personal, social and economic costs.
Harms that have been experienced by people who engage in gambling are influenced by multiple factors including age, gender, sex and family and friend involvement. The data shows that there are many different types of harms associated with gambling, and that they are complex and interrelated.
Several key themes emerged from the data. These included the breadth of experiences of harm, the subjectivity of what is considered harmful and the interrelationship between the causes of gambling related harms. It was important to identify that the concept of harm needs to be broader than just negative consequences and incorporated into a more holistic approach to mental health.
A common occurrence is for people to minimise or deny the effect of their gambling on their lives, a response that can lead to the development of compulsive behaviour and further harms. This can be difficult to detect and is further exacerbated when comorbidities such as alcohol use and depression are present.
Problem gamblers can experience many types of harm, including financial and emotional, physical and psychological. This can affect their health, relationships and work and study performance. It can even result in serious debt and homelessness.
This is why it is important for everyone to understand the risks of gambling. Whether you are a recreational gambler or someone who suffers from a gambling disorder, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of harm.
Always gamble with money you can afford to lose and only when you are able to do so responsibly. Start by setting a fixed amount of money you can gamble with each week, and stick to it. Don’t mix gambling with other activities, such as shopping or eating out. If you are having trouble staying within your limits, try putting it in the bank and only using that amount when you go to the casino. It’s also a good idea to not gamble when you are feeling down or depressed, as this can make your problems worse. It’s also a good idea not to try and recoup losses by chasing your losses – this will usually lead to more losses.