Gambling involves risking something of value – often money – on an event that is decided by chance. It can take many forms, from betting on a football team to win a game, to buying scratchcards. You will be matched to odds, which are the chances of winning, and you could win anything from a small amount of money up to a life-changing jackpot.
There are many reasons why people gamble, from socialising to reducing stress and anxiety. However, it is important to understand the risks and be aware of how gambling can affect your mental health.
If you are worried about your own gambling or someone you know, help is available. There are many different treatment options, including cognitive-behaviour therapy, which teaches you to challenge irrational beliefs, such as that a string of losses or a ‘near miss’ on a slot machine means a big win is imminent.
You can also find support groups for people with a gambling problem. It is also important to set limits on how much you can spend and for how long, and to never chase your losses. You should only ever gamble with money you can afford to lose and not money that you need for essential bills or living costs. If you are in debt, speak to StepChange for free and confidential advice.