What is Gambling?


Gambling is a risky activity that involves making a bet on something with chance. It can be as simple as someone making a ‘bet’ against another person on the outcome of a sporting event or as complex as a commercial endeavour that involves a large sum of money.

There are two main types of gambling: regulated and unregulated (informal) betting. Regulation is generally based on age limits and a ban on minors from participating. There are also different forms of gambling in each country and region.

Online Gaming

In modern times, most types of gambling have moved online. This is facilitated by the development of internet-enabled devices, including personal computers, tablets, and mobile phones, as well as the availability of reliable online payment methods.

Often, online gambling is a solitary activity that takes place without social interaction. However, some multi-participant games like poker or live dealer games do have a chat facility to allow communication with other players.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

CBT is a treatment method that can help you stop gambling by changing how you think about it. It can also help you deal with the emotions that are often associated with gambling.

Problem Gambling

A problem gambler is a person who is persistently engaging in a problematic behaviour that leads to negative consequences for their mental health, relationships, and social life. These consequences may include: financial losses, behavioural problems, and negative impacts on family and friends.

Adolescent Problem Gambling

Young people can experience adolescent-specific adverse consequences from gambling, as they grow up and start to make their own decisions about how to spend their money. These consequences can include: loss of school and work commitments, alienation from friends and family, and poor physical and emotional health.

The harm caused by gambling can be severe, and can have a long-lasting impact on the gambler and their family. It can also have a large impact on the broader community.

During the course of this research, two groups of harms were identified: firstly those that occurred from the first engagement with gambling and subsequently continued to emerge; and secondly those that occurred beyond a person’s first engagement with gambling but were still experienced by the person after they stopped engaging with it. The latter category of harms was referred to as legacy harms, because they continue to be felt even when a person’s engagement with gambling ceases.

Harms and measures

The literature on gambling related harms is a diverse one, with various types of measures used to measure the level and type of harms experienced by individuals and their communities. Some measures are based on the effects of gambling on individuals (behavioural indicators) and others on the underlying processes that lead to harmful outcomes. The latter measures are more difficult to assess, as they are subjective, and do not always yield a precise and stable measurement of the harms that occur from gambling.

Nevertheless, gambling related harms are important to understand in order to inform prevention and intervention strategies for individuals who engage in these behaviours and to raise awareness of the potential long-term consequences. The harms that result from gambling can have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences for the individual, their family, and the wider community.