Gambling involves wagering something of value on the outcome of a random event. It can be done with money or other items of value such as merchandise or collectible trading cards. It is a common activity for people to do in social settings such as casinos, racetracks, and private clubs. People also gamble online and through mobile apps.
For some people, gambling provides pleasure and a sense of excitement that is not found in other forms of recreation. This is especially true among older adults. In fact, it is reported that recreational gamblers report better physical and mental health functioning than nongambling seniors.
Some people experience difficulty controlling their gambling behavior and may find that it interferes with their work, family, or other activities. Problem gambling is considered to be an addictive disorder by many mental health professionals who use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria to diagnose psychological disorders.
Negative impacts of gambling have been observed at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society level. For example, gamblers’ debt and financial problems cause strain on their families. Moreover, gamblers often seek to recover losses by spending more money—a process known as “chasing” losses.
Identifying and understanding the positive and negative effects of gambling can help you make smarter decisions about your money. For starters, avoid using credit cards and only keep a small amount of cash on you at all times. Set a limit before you enter the casino and stick to it. Lastly, always be aware that you will lose.