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Gambling 101

Gambling 101

Gambling is placing something of value at risk in order to win something else of value (often money). It is an activity that involves a high degree of chance. It can include betting on sporting events, keno, bingo, slot machines, video poker, blackjack, dice, horse races, instant scratch-off tickets, and more. Gambling is a popular leisure time activity that has significant impacts on the gambler, their family members, and community/society. These impacts can be categorized as financial, labor, and health and well-being.

The key element in gambling is the decision to play. Once you make this decision, it becomes easier to stick with your plan and avoid temptation. When you feel an urge to gamble, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the goal is to stop gambling. If you can’t, consider reaching out for help. Remember that many families have successfully worked through this issue.

While gambling may be fun, it can also be dangerous if not managed responsibly. People who have a problem with gambling often find themselves in a vicious cycle: they may lose money or credit cards and then gamble to make up for it; they may lie to their family, therapist, or employer to conceal the extent of their involvement; they may even resort to illegal activities such as forgery, fraud, theft, embezzlement, and more in an attempt to finance their gambling.

Pathological gambling is a mental illness characterized by recurrent and persistent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors. Approximately 0.4-1.6% of Americans meet criteria for a PG diagnosis, and it tends to affect men more than women. In addition, PG tends to develop in adolescence or early adulthood and is more common with strategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling like blackjack or poker.