Problem Gambling


Gambling involves placing something of value on an event that has a chance to occur, such as betting on a football team to win a game or buying a scratchcard. It can also include playing games of chance, such as lotteries and bingo. People gamble for a variety of reasons, including socialization, entertainment, and relaxation. Some people find it difficult to stop gambling and develop a problem.

A number of behavioral and psychological disorders are associated with gambling, including impulsiveness and problems with impulse control. A few theories of gambling suggest that risk-taking, sensation- and novelty-seeking, and arousal are related to the onset and progression of gambling behavior. In addition, research suggests that the combination of a lack of self-control and negative emotionality may contribute to problematic gambling.

Among those who have problems with gambling, there is often a desire to keep it secret from others, or they may lie about how much money they spend on gambling activities. Those who are chasing losses, thinking they will be lucky again and recoup their lost funds, are experiencing what is called the “gambling fallacy.”

If you have a loved one with a problem gambling disorder, it’s important to seek help. You can try to get them into therapy, which typically uses cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) to change unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as false beliefs and rationalizations, and teach coping skills. Your family doctor or therapist can also help you find a support group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous.