Gambling is the wagering of something of value, usually money, on an event whose outcome is determined by chance or accident and where instances of strategy are discounted. It includes activities such as playing games of chance, horse racing, lotteries and betting on sporting events. Some people gamble for the thrill of winning, socialising or as an escape from worries or stress. But for some, gambling can become a serious problem that affects their mental health. If you’re worried about your gambling habits, talk to your doctor – there are treatments available and support groups to help you stop.
The world’s legal and illegal gambling market is estimated at $10 trillion a year. Most countries have legalized gambling and many have more than one type of gambling activity, including casinos, state-organized lotteries, sports wagering, racetracks and other forms of organized betting.
It is also possible to gamble through the Internet, where casinos and other gaming establishments provide access to a range of casino-style games online. The most popular gambling games are online poker, slots and bingo. Online casinos offer these games through their websites and also through their mobile applications.
Some studies use a cross-sectional design to evaluate the effects of gambling, but longitudinal designs are more effective in identifying factors that moderate and exacerbate an individual’s participation in gambling and allowing for the inference of causality. Longitudinal designs are especially useful for studying the impact of new gambling laws and practices on individuals, families and communities.
Research on the psychology of gambling has been influenced by a range of theoretical frameworks. Some researchers have focused on the role of cognitive processes, such as attention and memory, in influencing gambling behavior. Others have looked at the influence of mood disorders, such as depression, on gambling behaviors.
There is no medication to treat pathological gambling, but several psychotherapies are used to address the underlying problems. Some types of psychotherapy are more effective than others. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be a very effective treatment for gambling disorder. CBT addresses the way in which a person thinks and feels about gambling, and helps them change unhelpful beliefs and behaviours.
Taking the first step towards recovery is often difficult, and can be especially hard for those who have lost a lot of money or strained their relationships because of gambling. However, recognizing that you have a problem is important and can lead to an increase in your chances of success. The best course of action is to seek professional help, particularly from a trained therapist. The Psychologist Directory offers a comprehensive list of psychotherapists who are able to provide expert treatment for gambling problems and other mental health issues. Our online matching service will connect you with a suitable therapist within 48 hours. Alternatively, you can contact us directly and we will match you with someone appropriate to your needs. Our aim is to make the process of finding a therapist as easy as possible for you.