Gambling is a behaviour whereby something of value is staked on the outcome of a contest of chance, or upon a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence. This includes but is not limited to betting on sporting events and games of chance, lottery draws, horse races, scratchcards and other forms of gambling. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as contracts for the purchase or sale at a later date of securities or commodities, and agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of chance, including but not limited to contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.
There is a growing recognition that there are harmful impacts associated with gambling. This is reflected in the growing number of treatments and interventions aimed at reducing harms from gambling. However, there is still a need to develop an agreed definition and conceptual framework of harm from gambling, as well as better understanding of the breadth and experience of harm.
Harm from gambling is experienced by people from all walks of life and can affect anyone. The harms experienced can be financial, psychological, social and emotional. These harms are not just caused by the act of gambling but also by the impact it has on the person’s lifestyle and relationships. Often, this results in a spiral of self-destructive behaviours and can lead to debt and homelessness. Those with mental health problems are at a greater risk of gambling to distract themselves from negative emotions or feelings, such as anxiety and depression. The impact of a gambling problem can be severe and can lead to thoughts of suicide, which should always be taken seriously and should never be ignored.
Harms from gambling can be avoided by setting limits on how much money you are willing to spend, and only using it for entertainment. Taking a break from gambling can help you focus on other things and reset your priorities. If you have a gambling problem, or know someone who does, you can speak to StepChange for free and confidential debt advice.