How Gambling Can Turn Into a Problem

Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, property, etc.) on the outcome of a random event, such as a football game or scratchcards. It involves chance and the possibility of winning a prize, but instances of strategy are discounted. People gamble for a variety of reasons – some enjoy the excitement of trying to win a big payout, others like the social connections and sense of achievement involved in placing bets with friends. Others may find gambling a way to forget their problems or as an escape from other stresses in life.

A number of factors can cause an individual to develop a gambling problem. This includes a combination of environmental and psychological factors that lead to behavioural disinhibition. Typically, individuals who develop a gambling disorder are predisposed to impulsivity and sensation-seeking.

In addition, the dopamine produced when we experience a positive event is a powerful motivating force and encourages us to repeat those actions again. When this happens, we can start to believe that we are due for a good win and that we will make up for our losses. This is a known as the gambler’s fallacy.

While some gamble for fun, it can become a problem if the activity becomes an obsession and starts to impact on other areas of their lives such as health, family, work or study performance. It can also get them into trouble with the law and lead to serious debt and even homelessness.