The Harms of Gambling


Gambling is when you stake something, usually money or property, for the chance to win a prize. This could be on scratchcards or fruit machines, a lottery ticket or even at the races. You can bet with other people or on your own.

Depending on the type of gambling you do, it can be a fun experience or an obsession that causes problems in your life. Understanding the reasons for gambling can help you decide if it’s time to stop.

If you have a problem with gambling, seek help. Many organisations offer support, counselling and assistance for gamblers and their family and friends.

The harms of gambling can include financial, relationship and health impacts. You can also develop other comorbidities, such as depression or substance abuse, which can make the situation worse.

In some cases, the person’s addiction may lead to criminal activity, which can result in a range of negative consequences. If you have a gambling problem, seek help as soon as you can so that you can address the problems before they get out of control.

You can also take steps to minimise the risk of losing money or property. For example, you can avoid going over your budget. You can also try to set a loss threshold at which you will stop gambling.

There are three main types of gambling: – Lottery, fruit machine and scratchcards (chances-based) – Gaming machines, such as roulette, poker, blackjack and bingo (odds-based) – Playing with friends or other people on a regular basis These are all risky activities that should be avoided.

Financial harms included a number of different types of losses, from those that occur as a direct consequence of gambling to those that were caused by other behaviours that the person who gambled engages in, such as binge drinking or drug use. The first group of harms related to the erosion of surplus income or the capacity to purchase items that are not necessities, but rather discretionary purchases.

The second level of harms identified were those that resulted from the person engaging with gambling without having the capacity to prioritise other non-gambling items or spending from their discretionary income. This was typically a decision that a rational person would have made, but often the effects of automaticity and a sense of loss of awareness or control led to the erosion of this ability to spend from their savings or financial resources.

Relationship harms linked to the loss of time spent with a partner, spouse, child or family member due to engagement with gambling. These losses had a negative impact on the relationship and were often accompanied by a deterioration in the quality of that relationship or its enjoyment.

Identifying these types of harms in the general harms category was not straightforward, as they were not always labelled as gambling related. They also varied in the temporal scale, with some presenting in a crisis and others emerging over longer periods of engagement or as part of a bi-directional movement.