Gambling is a risky and enjoyable activity that many people engage in, but for some it can become a problem. It can cause harm to relationships, performance at work or study, get people into trouble with the law and leave them with serious debts and possible homelessness.
A person can gamble in a number of ways, including through games of chance such as lotteries or casino games. Other forms of gambling include the betting of money or property on events whose outcome is uncertain, such as football matches or horse races.
Often it can be difficult to know when someone is gambling too much. This can be because of the way that gambling makes people feel, such as excitement and a feeling of hope.
People who suffer from gambling disorder may also have other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. They might also have a family history of gambling or be more susceptible to social pressures to engage in gambling.
To understand how gambling affects people, researchers have used a range of research methods. These include focus groups, interviews and case studies.
The aim of the study was to explore how gambling affects people at three levels – the person who gambles, those who are affected by their gambling and the wider community. The data were obtained through focus groups and semi-structured interviews conducted in person and over the phone.
Focus Groups (n = 7) interviewed a range of different people, who either gambled or had a significant connection with someone who did. They were asked to share their experiences of gambling and the harms that it caused them.
They also shared their thoughts and feelings about how to stop gambling. They were paid to participate in the study and their feedback was used to inform the development of the concept of gambling related harm.
One of the main findings was that harms can occur at any time, and at any level of engagement with gambling. These harms can include emotional, psychological and financial consequences, but also impact on relationships, work, studies and economic activity.
In addition, they can also affect the behaviour of others, such as friends or family members who might find it hard to support their loved one’s gambling.
These harms can be severe, but they can also be relatively mild and short-term. The main difference between the most severe and less severe harms is that they are more likely to impact on people’s lives.
Generally, the most severe harms are associated with the loss of financial resources. The loss of money can be from the cost of gambling products or from a person’s ability to purchase other goods or services with their surplus income or other financial resources.
It was also noted that some people who do not gamble for considerable periods of time, can experience a binge which can be particularly harmful, such as a single evening of high-stakes gambling. This type of gambling can cause significant harm because it involves a lot of risk and the gambler does not have the capacity to control their spending habits.