Gambling is a game of chance or skill where you risk something valuable for the chance to win something else of value. In most cases, a bet cannot be taken back.
Gambling harms relate to the physical, mental, social and emotional impacts of gambling on both the person who gambles and those who are affected by their behaviour. They are often exacerbated by other comorbidities, including mental health disorders such as depression or substance abuse and by underlying mood disorders that are not addressed through the gambling behaviour.
Harms of the Brain
The physical impact of gambling includes changes to your brain. This may be due to changes in the neurotransmitters released when you gamble, such as dopamine. This can lead to a feeling of excitement that is difficult to get out of.
In addition, gambling can also change the way your brain thinks about your chances of winning or losing. You may begin to believe you’re more likely to win than you really are or that certain rituals or actions can bring you luck or recoup losses.
You may start to feel like you’re “due” for a big win or that you can get your money back by gambling more. These feelings are known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and can be very difficult to stop once they start.
Stigma and shame: Many people who experience problem gambling feel stigmatised by their behaviour. This can be particularly true for people who live in smaller communities or in prison.