Gambling is a behaviour in which people risk something of value, such as money or time, for the chance to win a prize. It occurs in a wide range of places and situations including casinos, lotteries, races, clubs, restaurants, sports events and the internet. It can also happen in the home, in public spaces such as parks and streets or at workplaces, schools, universities and hospitals. People with a gambling problem are often in debt, have lost relationships, are not working or studying and can struggle to cope with life’s stresses. They may try to conceal their gambling activity from others. Some even steal or commit fraud to fund their gambling habit.
Gambling research has traditionally focused on a range of diagnostic criteria and measures of harms experienced whilst gambling. However, there is growing recognition that harmful impacts from gambling can occur across a number of domains and can have an impact long after a person has stopped gambling. These effects are referred to as legacy harms. To reflect this a new thematic classification system for harms from gambling has been developed and a harm minimisation framework and taxonomy are proposed.
If you know someone with a gambling disorder, help them to recognise their behaviour for what it is – a destructive habit. Encourage them to seek treatment and support. Consider referring them to a specialist gambling therapist or to a self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous. If they are struggling financially, a debt adviser at StepChange can provide free and confidential advice.