Gambling involves betting on an event involving chance, such as playing a game of poker, or buying a scratchcard. The amount you bet depends on ‘odds’, which are set by the betting company. If you predict the outcome correctly, you win money. However, if you don’t predict the outcome you lose the money you’ve gambled.
The first thing you need to know about gambling is that it is a risky activity and can lead to serious problems. If you are worried about someone’s gambling behaviour talk to them and encourage them to seek help if they need it.
Understanding gambling risks
A good place to start is to understand the different types of risk involved. The main risks associated with gambling are:
Developing a problem
Gambling can be a problem if it interferes with your daily life. It can affect your finances, relationships and health. It can also be harmful if you have a psychological disorder or condition that makes you more susceptible to gambling.
Having a gambling problem is a mental health issue and it can be treated by a professional. It can take time to find the right treatment and it is important to seek treatment before you get too far down the road of addiction.
Your brain can make you more likely to become a gambling addict because it releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter when you win and release it less when you lose. This can make it difficult to recognise when you need to stop gambling.
You can also develop a gambling problem if you are under stress or have a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety. You might also have a coping style that makes it harder to stop gambling, or you might be trying to escape from a stressful situation by spending more time at the casino.
Getting a good deal
If you are a beginner to gambling you can look at places that offer good value for your money. For example, some of the casinos in the UK offer a free bet when you first join, which can help to get you started and save you a few pennies in the long run.
Finding a better deal
Some people will be happy to pay more for their entertainment than others. For example, if you like football and want to watch a particular team play then you will be more likely to bet on them than another team.
It is also worth remembering that the odds are designed to work against you. The more you bet the worse it is likely to go for you, so don’t bet more than you can afford to lose!
Getting back what you have lost
If you have won some money and you’ve spent it all on gambling, it is easy to start thinking that you can just make it all back if you keep playing. This is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and it is important to avoid this.