How Gambling Can Turn Into a Problem


Gambling is the act of wagering something of value on an event with a chance of winning or losing money. This can be as simple as throwing dice or placing a bet on the outcome of a football game. Some people can walk away from their gambling activity easily and stop, but others don’t – these are the individuals that are more likely to develop an addiction. It could be that they have a genetic predisposition to impulse control or impulsivity, or perhaps it’s because of the way their brain is wired. There may also be cultural factors at play – for example, some communities consider gambling as an accepted pastime and it can be difficult to recognize a problem when you’re part of that culture.

When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine – the feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you excited. This response is designed to help you learn from your experiences and improve your chances of success in future gambling endeavours. However, problem gambling changes the way our brain sends chemical messages and hijacks this learning process – this is how problems with gambling begin to develop into an addiction.

Most people gamble for fun and entertainment. It is a social activity that allows friends and family members to interact and participate in friendly competition. It can be an entertaining way to kill time or a stress buster, but it’s important to recognise that gambling is not a profitable activity and you should never bet more than you can afford to lose.

For some, gambling becomes a means of escape from their day-to-day stresses and this can cause problems within the family and in work life. They may start to gamble more often, and spend more money chasing their losses. This thinking is known as the gambler’s fallacy and it is one of the most common errors that people make when they start to struggle with gambling.

There are several ways that you can try to reduce your risk of gambling becoming problematic. The most obvious is to limit the amount of money you’re prepared to spend and not be tempted by winnings or promotional offers. It’s also important to keep in mind that gambling has many hidden costs, such as the time you spend on it and the opportunity cost of not doing other things with that time.

If you’re concerned about someone’s gambling behaviour, it’s important to remember that they didn’t choose to win early or get addicted – it just happened. Try to be understanding and remember that their problems with gambling are probably linked to underlying emotional issues. For more information on safeguarding vulnerable adults, take a look at our Safeguarding Training Courses. We have a wide range of courses to suit all your needs, including Safeguarding Adults Online Training and Safeguarding Children Courses. We can help you to identify the signs of a problem, understand how to respond and how to report a safeguarding concern.