You’re in a twinkly casino, filled up at the buffet and itching to roll the dice. Whether you’re playing poker, betting on horses or sport events or using the pokies, gambling offers a nice rush when things go your way. But if you’re not careful it can be dangerous. The first step to safer gambling is understanding how it works. Here’s what you need to know:
Gambling involves risking something of value — money, property or possessions — on an event whose outcome is uncertain, such as a sports game or a lottery draw. In general, people who gamble want to win more than they lose. However, some people become addicted to gambling and lose control of their behaviour. This is known as pathological gambling (PG), and it affects about 0.4-1.6% of Americans. It often begins in adolescence or young adulthood, and it is more common in men than in women.
There are many warning signs of a gambling problem. These include: (1) being preoccupied with gambling; (2) lying to family members, therapists or others about the extent of their involvement in gambling; (3) chasing losses (trying to win back lost money by escalating their level of involvement in gambling); and (4) jeopardizing a job, education or relationships because of gambling. Pathological gamblers also report a variety of other symptoms, including depression and anxiety.
The odds are that you will lose when you gamble. This is true for all gambling games, from random casino games like blackjack and roulette to skill-based games such as poker and sports betting. Even if you play a game with high skill levels, you will likely lose more than you win. If you’re adamant about not losing your hard-earned cash, it is important to budget and stick to a spending limit before you start playing. This will help you keep your winnings in perspective and ensure that the gambling experience is enjoyable and not harmful.
In addition, it is a good idea to avoid the temptation of free cocktails and other drinks in casinos, as these can lead to reckless betting. Also, don’t chase your losses — this is known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” You think you are due for a big win so you put in more money hoping to recoup your loss. However, this is a surefire way to make yourself broke.
If you’re battling an addiction to gambling, the best thing to do is seek treatment. There are a number of different treatments available, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This will help you examine your beliefs about gambling and change them. For example, you may believe that certain rituals can bring luck and that you’re more likely to win than you really are. These irrational thoughts can lead to unhealthy gambling habits that impact your mental health and wellbeing. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and there are a number of different support groups for gamblers. There are also marriage, career and credit counseling services that can help you repair the damage done to your life and relationships.