Gambling is the placing of something of value, often money, on an event with an unknown outcome. This activity involves risk and chance, and may involve elements of strategy. It can be as simple as a single person making a bet with another, or as complex as an organisation’s investment in a new technology in the hope of future high demand.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including the desire to win money and the sense of euphoria it can create when they win. In addition, gambling can provide a way to relieve boredom and social isolation. However, these activities are not without their risks and many people experience harm as a result of their gambling.
During the course of the research project, two separate groups of themes emerged. The first is that harms are experienced at three different levels: the person who gambles, their affected others and the broader community. The second theme is that there are multiple types of harms and these can occur at a range of times, from an initial engagement through to reaching a temporal point of significance.
A number of existing theories have contributed to the identification of these thematic areas and the development of the conceptual framework. These include:
There are also a number of measures that have been developed to help with the measurement of gambling related harm. These have included the use of behavioural symptoms, which have been shown to be a proxy measure for gambling behaviour. These symptoms have been linked to the onset and severity of gambling related harms.
The use of a symptom based approach to the measurement of gambling related harms has been criticised as a limitation in terms of its ability to identify and differentiate between harmful and non-harmful gambling. This has led to the development of more rigorous measures of harm such as a gambling hazard score which assesses the level of potential harm associated with a particular type of gambling.
In order to overcome a gambling problem, it is important to recognise that the habit can have serious consequences for your life and health. It is also important to seek support, either from family and friends or by joining a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. For those struggling with severe gambling problems, inpatient treatment and rehabilitation programs can be an option. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, StepChange can offer free and confidential debt advice. There are also many ways to relieve unpleasant feelings without resorting to gambling, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and trying relaxation techniques. Moreover, it is important to look at alternative ways of relieving boredom and stress such as taking up hobbies, volunteering or attending educational classes. In doing so, you can take back control of your life and focus on a healthier lifestyle.