Gambling is the wagering of something of value (typically money) on an event with an element of chance and the potential to win a prize. This includes casino games such as blackjack, poker and roulette, lottery tickets, sports betting such as football accumulators and horse racing and even speculating on business or financial markets.
While many people gamble responsibly, for some gambling can become an addiction and lead to harmful consequences. Problem gambling is known to harm physical and mental health, relationships with family and friends and performance at work or school. It can also cause debt and even homelessness. The good news is that help is available for anyone who needs it.
Longitudinal studies are an ideal way to examine gambling impacts, but they are not yet common. The main reason is the time commitment required – both in terms of funding and personnel, plus difficulties with maintaining research team continuity over a long period and avoiding sample attrition. Furthermore, longitudinal data are notoriously prone to confounding effects such as aging and period (e.g., a person’s sudden interest in gambling may be due to turning 18, reaching the age of majority or a new casino opening nearby).
If you have a family member with an addiction, remember that you are not alone — many families have experienced problems related to gambling. Reaching out for support can help you understand the issues and think about solutions. It’s also important to set boundaries around finances and credit — and never give in to requests for “just one more.” If you’re struggling, talk to a counselor.