If you have a loved one with a gambling problem, it is important to understand the motivation behind their behavior. There are four main reasons people gamble: for coping purposes – to forget their worries, to feel more self-confident or to get a rush; for financial gain – to win money or to change their lifestyle; and for entertainment – to have fun or enjoy the excitement of the game. Understanding why they are doing it can help you better cope with their behaviour and avoid judging them or making yourself angry at them for not being responsible enough to control their finances.
Compulsive gambling can affect all aspects of your loved ones life, including their relationships with you. This is because the addiction changes their priorities, leading them to focus on acquiring more money through gambling. The result is that they may start to go into debt or even steal from family members to fund their habit. This can cause a lot of stress and strain on friendships, marriages and families. Eventually, these relationships can break down and lead to long term damage.
When someone gambles, the brain receives a dopamine reward, just like when they shoot a basketball into a basket or complete a difficult task. It is the same reward mechanism that is activated when taking drugs of abuse and, for many people, repeated exposure to gambling triggers lasting changes in the brain. For this reason, it is hard for them to stop.
For some, gambling can become an obsession and they will spend all their free time at the casino or online. In this situation, it is important to seek professional help if you think your loved one is exhibiting symptoms of gambling disorder. This can be in the form of individual therapy, family counseling or marriage and credit counselling. The goal of treatment is to help them regain control of their life and learn to cope without gambling.
While the benefits of gambling can be substantial, it is important to consider the costs. These can be divided into personal, interpersonal, and societal/community levels. The most well-studied are the monetary costs of gambling, such as revenue, tourism, and infrastructure cost or value. Other types of costs include labor impacts (including productivity losses, absenteeism, reduced performance and job loss) and health and well-being costs.
Supporters argue that a legalised and controlled gambling industry would increase economic growth, provide jobs, and promote tourism. Opponents counter that legalising gambling attracts illegal operations, diverts tax revenue to other regions, and encourages crime, addiction and other social problems. These conflicting views make it difficult to come to a clear decision on whether or not gambling is good for society. However, there is evidence that the benefits of gambling outweigh the negative consequences and, with careful management, it can be a sustainable source of income for the state. This is particularly true for deprived communities. Ultimately, the decision to regulate gambling will depend on the resolution of these conflicting perspectives.