How to Protect Yourself From Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a popular pastime for many people but some can develop problems that can affect their lives and those of others. There are a number of different types of gambling, from online games to charity lotteries to slot machines, but all involve some risk. This article looks at how you can protect yourself from gambling addiction and where to get help if you need it.

A person engages in gambling if they stake or risk something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under their control or influence, on the basis of an agreement or understanding that they or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a particular result, except for bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as purchases and sales of securities or commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty, and life, health, or accident insurance. The term ‘gambling’ is used to encompass both activities that are wholly random and those in which skill can improve the chances of winning, such as card games, horse racing, and sports betting.

The risk of gambling addiction is higher in certain groups of people, including those with mental health issues, a history of substance misuse, and a family history of problem gambling. This is why it’s important to understand the risks and how to reduce them. If you are worried about your own gambling habits or the gambling of a friend or relative, speak to a debt advisor who can offer free, confidential advice.

In some countries, the practice of gambling is very regulated. A ‘gambling establishment’ is any place where gambling takes place and is operated on a professional basis, such as casinos, race tracks, and bingo halls. ‘Gambling paraphernalia’ is any book, record, ticket, certificate, bill, slip, token, writing, scratch sheet, or other device used in connection with the conduct of bookmaking, wagering pools, lotteries, numbers, policy, and similar gambling operations. It also includes any altered gambling equipment or contrivance, such as shaved or loaded dice, mirror rings, electronic sensors, or other devices.

Adolescents may participate in regulated gambling, such as provincial lotteries and sporting events, but they also engage in non-regulated forms of gambling. This type of gambling ranges from no gambling to experimentation and occasional or regular social gambling to excessive and problematic gambling. Those with serious gambling problems are called pathological gamblers, although it is important to note that this diagnosis does not always apply and that the vast majority of people who have serious gambling problems do not meet the criteria for pathological gambling.

Research on gambling problems is most effective when undertaken using longitudinal designs. The longitudinal nature of these studies allows researchers to identify factors that moderate and exacerbate the intensity of gambling behavior, and also establish causality. However, a number of practical and logistical barriers make longitudinal research difficult to carry out; these include the massive funding required for a multiyear commitment; difficulties with maintaining research team continuity over a long time period; and the known limitations on interpreting longitudinal data (e.g., aging and period effects).