Gambling As a Dangerous Hobby

Gambling involves risking money (or other assets) against an activity that is mainly a matter of chance. It has existed in virtually every society since prerecorded history, and has often been incorporated into local customs and rites of passage. The amount of money legally wagered each year is estimated to be around $10 trillion (illegal gambling may be much more). Several forms of gambling exist: lotteries, casino games, scratchcards, sports betting, and online poker. Some of these activities are commercial and professionally organized, while others (e.g. horse racing, football pools) are largely recreational.

The vast majority of people gamble responsibly, enjoying the entertainment value and the thrill of winning. But for some, gambling becomes an overwhelming addiction. Some people are predisposed to gambling problems because of a genetic or chemical makeup. Others become addicted to gambling because it changes the way their brains react to rewards and risks. It’s a bit like being addicted to drugs or alcohol in that it can alter the way our bodies respond to pleasure, making us crave more and more.

In some cases, gambling can be a fun group activity for friends. But it can also be a dangerous hobby. It is important to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and not with funds that are necessary for bills or daily living. And always make sure you are gambling in a licensed, safe environment.

A person who is addicted to gambling may have some of the following symptoms: — lies to family members or therapists about the extent of their involvement in gambling; — is preoccupied with thoughts about gambling and how they could win more; — withdraws from daily life activities to gamble; — continues to gamble even after experiencing financial losses; — feels a strong urge to gamble even when it interferes with relationships, work, or school; — makes excuses to avoid attending social events that include gambling; — has abused legal substances (e.g., alcohol) to enhance enjoyment of gambling; — steals or embezzles money to finance gambling; and — has jeopardized or lost a job, career, or education opportunity because of gambling.

Some communities have a culture that encourages gambling, which can make it difficult to recognize when someone is suffering from a problem. Additionally, some religious groups believe that gambling is a sin.