Understanding the Harm Caused by Gambling


Gambling (or ‘betting’) is the risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. This can include betting on a football match, or buying a scratchcard. It requires three elements to be present: consideration, risk and a prize.

When you place a bet, the stakes are calculated using ‘odds’ that are set by the betting company. The odds of winning the bet depend on the amount of money you are betting and the time frame in which you want to win.

In some cases, gambling can be addictive. It can lead to financial problems, and it can affect your relationship with friends and family.

Harmful gambling is a mental health issue that can be triggered by psychological disorders and conditions, coping styles, social learning, beliefs and environment. It can be a serious problem that requires help.

Those who engage in gambling may have other problems, including depression and anxiety. They may also suffer from other addictions or substance use problems, such as alcohol or drugs.

There are a number of different ways to gamble, including in person at casinos or online through betting sites. You can also play bingo or lotteries and make a bet on sports.

Understanding the harm caused by gambling is important if you are worried about someone who you think might be addicted to gambling. It can help you understand their behaviour better and encourage them to seek support from a mental health professional.

The first way to measure harm from gambling is to use a diagnostic criteria for problem gambling. These are developed by mental health professionals and are widely used to diagnose this condition. They have limitations however, such as being overly simplistic and not providing a stable and precise measurement of harm.

Second, there is a growing literature in the field of behavioural indicators which are used to gauge the degree of harm that is experienced by a person. These are based on the idea that a symptomatic response to gambling can be a clear indication of harm. They are however, more a proxy than a definitive measure of harm and are often less sensitive to the underlying causes of gambling.

Third, there is a growing interest in the impact of gambling on people’s relationships. These include the person who gambles, their affected others (including family and friends) and communities.

Relationship harms were a common finding in the data, particularly those that involved a reduction in time spent with affected others due to engagement with gambling. These harms were generally episodic but could be pervasive and could vary based on the characteristics of both the person who gambled and the affected other.

The term ‘legacy harms’ was identified as a useful label for these general harms that occurred even after the person who gambled had stopped engaging in the activity or their gambling behaviour had changed. These harms included the longer term impacts of poor credit ratings, financial vulnerability and poverty that had a lifelong impact on the person who gambled or their affected others.