Gambling refers to betting something of value – typically money – on an event with some element of chance and the potential of yielding larger prizes. Dependent upon your country of residence, this may involve lotteries, casino games, card games, sports betting, scratch-off tickets or instant lottery tickets and similar activities. Even though many enjoy gambling responsibly, a small minority develop an addiction which causes considerable social and financial damage. Researchers have investigated various psychological and environmental risk factors associated with gambling disorders; however, its cause remains elusive. However, the condition tends to run in families and is particularly common among those who have experienced trauma or who live in areas with high levels of inequality. Furthermore, males appear to be more affected than women by this disorder which may appear as early as adolescence or late as older adulthood.
Gamblers use gambling as an escape from negative emotions, to relax, socialize and find fulfillment if they win – though there may be healthier and more effective means of managing moods and relieving boredom, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambler friends or practicing relaxation techniques.
Pathological gambling was traditionally classified as an impulse control disorder similar to kleptomania or pyromania; however, in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association moved it into their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
Socially, gambling has serious repercussions for society; such as job loss and relationship strain. Furthermore, individuals can become dependent upon gambling and prioritize it over other activities which can lead to family difficulties or bankruptcy. People with gambling disorders are also likely to engage in illegal acts like theft or forgery to feed their habit.
Some studies focus solely on the economic effects of gambling, yet this approach fails to consider its social costs. Critics point out that these costs must be aggregated across society rather than just being felt by individual gamblers; furthermore, such analysis fails to take account of Miles’ Law: those who stand to benefit economically will support it, while those who stand to lose economically will oppose it; researchers should therefore strive to incorporate more social-impact measures when assessing gambling’s effects.