Whether it’s betting on the winning horse in a race, putting money on a slot machine, or lining up to buy lottery tickets, gambling involves risking something of value for a chance at winning something else of value. It can be fun, but it’s important to set money and time limits in advance. Don’t use your rent or phone bill money to gamble, and don’t chase losses (thinking you’re due for a big win or can always make it back).
The positive effects of gambling can include improving one’s intelligence. Skill-based games like blackjack and poker encourage players to devise strategies and develop critical thinking. They also help players improve pattern recognition, remember numbers and read body language. In addition, winning money increases a player’s happiness and produces the feel-good hormone dopamine.
However, if you’re an avid gambler and find yourself in trouble, seek professional help as soon as possible. Underlying mood disorders such as depression, stress or substance abuse can trigger gambling problems and worsen them. Problem gambling can also damage a person’s social relationships and lead to homelessness. In some cases, a compulsive gambler can lose their job, family, home and even their life.
It’s estimated that one problem gambler affects at least seven others—friends, relatives and coworkers. If you know someone who struggles with gambling, consider getting them some Safeguarding Training to help them understand their problem and how to support them. This will give you the best opportunity to protect them from harm and keep them in work and their homes.