Harms and Consequences of Gambling

Gambling is a recreational activity that involves risking money and/or other assets for the chance of winning a prize. Whether it’s a bet at the casino, a lottery ticket, or tossing a coin in the air, gambling can be an addictive activity that can lead to a variety of harms and consequences.

Harmful gambling behaviours can be experienced by anyone, at any time and in a variety of settings and circumstances. The underlying cause of this harmful behaviour is a complex interaction of broad social and environmental determinants.

People who gamble may have distorted cognitions or erroneous beliefs that influence their decisions and lead to problematic gambling behaviours. They can also feel powerless to control their gambling and recoup their losses.

They may experience a lack of self worth and reduced levels of emotional, mental or physical health, which can result in poorer outcomes in their relationships with others. They can also be at risk of self-harm or suicidal ideation and attempts.

A range of negative impacts have been linked to problem gambling including financial loss, relationship breakdown and the development of comorbidities such as substance misuse and depression. Treatment and support services such as family therapy, marriage, career and credit counseling can be helpful in dealing with the impact of problem gambling on a person’s life.

Relationship harms were particularly common with participants reporting that the relationship between people who gambled and their affected others could operate on a continuum. At the low end the harms were typically a reduction of time and trust between people who gambled and their affected others, while at the high end the impact of gambling on the relationship could be a significant source of distress or conflict.