What is Gambling and How Can it Affect You?


Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something of equal or greater value. Unlike other types of games, where players can choose which action to take, gambling outcomes are determined by chance and there is no strategy involved.

There are many different ways to gamble, from playing the Lotto to betting on sports events and using the pokies (Australian poker machines). Often people start gambling as children or teenagers, but it can occur at any age. Some people are able to stop on their own, but for others it’s more difficult. Counselling can help people understand why they gamble, and consider the impact on themselves and their families. It can also assist with managing other problems, such as depression or alcohol use.

Gambling harms can have a variety of short and long-term financial, physical, emotional, cultural, and social impacts on the person who gambles, their affected family/whanau, friends and their community. There is no single internationally agreed definition of gambling harm, with some definitions focusing on diagnosis or screening for problem gambling and others highlighting the potential to generate, exacerbate or cause gambling related harms.

The majority of research in this area focuses on the psychological aspects of gambling and includes studies on behavioural economics, motivation, learning, decision-making, and hedonic psychology. Cognitive behavioural therapy is commonly used to treat gambling disorders, and is similar to treatments for other addictions such as substance misuse.