Whether you’re buying a lottery ticket, placing a bet on the horses, playing casino games or using pokies, gambling involves betting something of value (money or materials) on an event where the outcome depends on chance or luck. Gambling can affect physical health, mental wellbeing, relationships and performance at work or study. It can also cause financial stress, debt and even homelessness.
For many people, it’s possible to gamble occasionally without getting hooked. Those who can do this are referred to as social gamblers. They enjoy a game of chance and get excited when they win, but they don’t let it disrupt their other daily activities.
A problem is considered when gambling becomes a major issue that interferes with or takes over one’s daily life, including family, friends, education, career and responsibilities. It’s important to seek help if you’re concerned about your gambling behaviour.
Identify what triggers your urges to gamble. For example, do you gamble when you’re bored or stressed? Learn to replace those unhealthy impulses with healthier ways of dealing with unpleasant feelings and unwinding, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up a new hobby.
Reduce the financial risk factors that make it easier for you to gamble, such as keeping credit cards, using payday loans and carrying large amounts of cash around. Make it a rule not to gamble with money you need for essential expenses. Find new hobbies and social activities that will fill the void left by unhealthy gambling habits, such as joining a book club or gym, signing up to community classes or volunteering.