Gambling involves staking something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on an uncertain event, such as the outcome of a game, a contest or a lottery. It is a major worldwide industry. It can be done with real money, but also with virtual coins or paper tickets for games such as bingo and scratchcards. It can be done face to face, on the Internet, or through televised events. People with gambling problems are more likely to develop them in adolescence or early adulthood. They are more likely to report problems with strategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling, such as blackjack and poker, than with nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive forms, such as slot machines and bingo.

Getting help for a problem with gambling

If you have a gambling problem, get help as soon as possible. Talk to your GP, or a mental health professional, therapist or counselor.

Consider joining a support group, like Gamblers Anonymous, or taking up a new hobby to distract yourself from the urge to gamble. Try to only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Set money and time limits for yourself before you start gambling, and never chase your losses—it is almost always a losing proposition. Try to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. There is a strong link between gambling and depression, so if you have thoughts of suicide, call 999 or visit A&E immediately.