Gambling is an activity in which people place bets on outcomes of events such as sports games, horse races, or casino games. It is an addictive behavior that can lead to financial, personal and family problems. It is most common in lower socioeconomic groups and is often associated with depression or other mental health issues.
Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors that are persistent and recurrent. The prevalence of PG is estimated to be 0.4-1.6% of the US population. Typically, PG develops in adolescence or young adulthood and is more prevalent among males than females. Moreover, it is more likely to develop in relation to strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling than nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling such as slots and bingo.
Positive aspects of gambling include the learning of skills such as math, strategy, and risk management. In addition, gambling can provide individuals with an opportunity to earn additional income, especially in times of economic need.
Negative aspects of gambling include hidden costs, which can affect the gambler and his/her family members in various ways. These costs are mostly invisible at the individual level and include monetary, psychological, social, and emotional costs. These costs are also hidden at the community/societal level, as they are not included in official gambling revenues and do not appear on health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights or disability weights.
Individuals who are addicted to gambling can benefit from a variety of treatment options. They can seek counseling from a licensed therapist, join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous or enroll in educational courses to learn money management skills. They can also enlist the help of a sponsor, someone with experience in remaining free from gambling addiction.