The Root Causes of Gambling


Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, possessions or even one’s reputation) on an event with uncertain outcome. It can be a source of pleasure or an escape from everyday life but it can also cause harms including depression, anxiety and substance misuse. Problem gambling can affect family, relationships, work and study and can leave a person in debt and potentially homeless.

It is a popular activity around the world and people gamble for many reasons. Some gamble for the thrill of winning, some to relieve boredom and others to socialize. Some people become addicted to gambling for the same reasons they develop an addiction to other substances and activities. These include:

The root causes of gambling are complex and differ for each individual. Underlying mood disorders such as depression, stress and anxiety can often trigger or make worse problems with gambling. Problems such as low self-esteem and a sense of loneliness can also contribute to gambling addiction.

Some governments use gambling to raise money for public services without raising taxes. For example, many states hold lottery games, casinos and sports betting events. These revenues are sometimes advertised as being used for a specific purpose such as education.

Despite its widespread popularity, gambling is not without controversy. Critics of gambling argue that it leads to increased political corruption, compulsive gambling, and higher crime rates. Others say that it is a form of regressive tax that harms the local economy in which gambling venues operate.

There are ways to reduce the risk of gambling problems, such as keeping a close eye on bank accounts and limiting how much you spend. You can also seek help and support if you are concerned that you may have a problem. Many people find that joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous helps them overcome their addiction. Other options include addressing any underlying mood issues, such as seeking treatment for depression, strengthening your support network and finding new ways to relax or socialize without gambling. You can do this by spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up a new hobby or volunteering. You could also try a therapy service such as BetterHelp, which can connect you with therapists who have experience treating gambling disorder. Take the assessment and get matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours. You can do this from the comfort of your own home, at a time that is convenient for you. This article is based on research from the National Institute of Mental Health and published by Psych Central.