How Gambling Affects the Well-Being of Children

How Gambling Affects the Well-Being of Children


Gambling involves risking money or something else of value on an outcome that is determined at least partly by chance. People gamble for fun, to try to win money or other valuables, and sometimes to relieve boredom. It can also be a way of relieving unpleasant emotions such as anger, fear or depression. People can gamble in many ways, including playing card games, buying lottery or scratch cards and betting on football accumulators or horse races with friends. They can also bet on business, insurance or stock markets.

Most people have gambled at some time, but for some it can become a problem. For some, gambling can hurt their physical and mental health, affect relationships with family and friends, interfere with work or study, cause them to miss out on other enjoyable activities and lead to debt and homelessness. In addition, it can impact on the well-being of children who have a parent with a gambling problem.

While it is hard to put a number on how many people have a gambling problem, research shows that up to 2 million adults in the U.S. (1%) meet the criteria for a gambling disorder. Another 4-6 million have mild or moderate gambling problems and may be in need of help. Problem gambling can damage relationships, cause mental and physical illness, increase anxiety or depression, lead to substance abuse, poor work performance, financial difficulties and even suicide.

The causes of gambling problems are complex and vary from person to person. There are a number of risk factors that can make someone more likely to gamble, such as having an underactive brain reward system or being genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. Cultural and social influences can also play a role, as some communities consider gambling to be a normal pastime and it can be difficult for them to recognize when their gambling has gone out of control.

If you know someone who is struggling with a gambling problem, talk to them and offer your support. You can also find out more about effective treatment options and resources to help them.

Managing gambling problems involves learning how to cope with triggers and regaining control over your finances. You can start by setting limits on how much time you spend gambling and sticking to them, not using credit cards to fund your gambling and avoiding online betting websites. You should also learn healthier and safer ways to relieve boredom or unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. It is important to avoid chasing your losses, as the more you lose, the more you will probably want to gamble.