Understanding Gambling Harm


Gambling is an activity in which a bet is placed on an event with an uncertain outcome. The outcome can be a result of chance (such as winning or losing a game of poker) or a decision made by the player such as whether to invest in a new business venture. In either case, the gambler must agree with the other party on the terms of the bet including the odds for success or loss.

While gambling is a popular pastime for many people, some people experience problems with it. Problem gambling can have a serious impact on the life of a person and may lead to family and financial difficulties. The good news is that there are ways to help you overcome your addiction to gambling and regain control of your finances and your life.

Some people gamble in regulated venues such as casinos, horse racing tracks and bookmakers. Others gamble through non-regulated activities such as lotteries, private games and playing cards. In some cases, gambling can be illegal such as when it involves organised crime or money laundering.

The first step to recovering from a gambling problem is to recognise that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if you have been conditioned to believe that gambling is not addictive. However, it is important to remember that gambling is a behavioural addiction and like any other addictive behaviour, it can be treated with professional help.

Harms caused by gambling can be significant and range from physical health issues to emotional distress, social isolation and loss of employment. It is important to understand the nature of gambling harm and how it can be measured so that appropriate interventions can be developed.

A national definition of harm related to gambling is essential, as is a consistent approach in measuring gambling-related harm. This is to ensure that research, treatment and prevention efforts are informed by the same evidence base.

It is also necessary to understand the differences between the various types of gambling harm, as this will influence the interventions and services that are developed to address them. At present, the most commonly recognised forms of harm are financial, psychological, interpersonal and occupational. These categories reflect the way in which people experience these harms and how they are impacted by their level of involvement with gambling.

Using an established conceptual framework of gambling related harm provides a clearer understanding of the different types of harm that can occur and how they are experienced by individuals. This provides a more precise understanding of the nature of harm in gambling than is available with other measures such as diagnostic criteria and behavioural symptoms. It is also a more useful framework for developing interventions and policy to reduce gambling-related harm. This is because it recognises that people can experience harm at several levels – within their own lives, in their relationships with friends and family and in the wider community.