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Recognizing the Signs of Problem Gambling

Gambling is an activity where the participant wagers something of value (money or items) on an event involving chance or skill where there is an opportunity to win. This can include games of chance like card games, dice games and roulette; sports betting on events such as horse races or football accumulators; and lottery games. Some gambling can also involve social interaction, for example when friends or family members place bets on sports events or political elections in a private setting.

Many people gamble for fun, and while some become addicted, others can enjoy it without suffering any negative consequences. However, research shows that there are also some people who suffer from serious problems and it is important to recognize the signs of problem gambling in order to seek help.

Those who are prone to gambling addiction may have genetic predispositions and can be influenced by their environment, including the social culture they grow up in. They may also be influenced by the way their brains are wired to process reward information and control impulses. People with these characteristics can find it difficult to stop gambling, even when they realise it is causing them harm.

Unlike economic impacts which can be quantified, social impacts cannot be easily measured and are therefore less recognized. These can include emotional stress and problems in relationships, which can result from gambling and which are not directly related to the gambler’s financial situation. They can also result from the inability to maintain a healthy balance between work and play and can be exacerbated by other life events.