What Is Gambling?


Gambling is any form of risk-taking where people stake money or other items of value, often in the hope of winning a prize. Traditionally, this includes games such as fruit machines and slot machines, as well as betting on football accumulators or other events and on scratchcards. It can also include speculating on business, insurance or stock markets.

Problem gambling can have a devastating impact on individuals, families and society as a whole. It can damage physical and mental health, strain relationships, cause financial difficulties and lead to legal problems. For some, it can even be a life-threatening addiction. Fortunately, more and more casinos are taking the issue seriously. They’re hiring trained staff to spot signs of problem gambling and placing brochures about Gamblers Anonymous and other treatment options in their buildings and near ATM machines and pay phones.

Having a clear definition of harm is important because it allows for a more holistic approach to gambling related harm. The concept of harm encompasses all the harms that can result from engagement in gambling, including both immediate and legacy harms (see Neal et al. for further details). This approach is also consistent with the broader public health approach to harm.

If you’re worried about your own gambling habits or those of someone close to you, don’t go it alone. Seek help from your family doctor, a counselor or from a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. If you’re the person struggling with a gambling addiction, try to set money and time limits for yourself. Don’t try to ‘chase’ your losses; this will only increase your losses.