Gambling happens when you play games of chance or skill and risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value. Gambling always has two things in common – risk and an unknown outcome.
There are two types of games: games of chance (like the lottery or slot machines) and games of skill (like poker or sports betting). Males more often play games of skill. But do not be fooled by this! Not matter how much skill you have or how much you practice, the odds are not in your favour.
Gambling becomes problematic when a person keeps playing despite negative consequences. They are often unable to set or maintain limits related to both time and money. They may neglect their other responsibilities like school or work, experience changes in their mood, or withdraw from friends and family.
Gambling stimulates the reward system in the brain, similar to substances like drugs and alcohol. Over time the brain can become dependant on gambling because of this chemical reaction. Gambling problems can affect many areas of life; it is not just about losing money. Problem gambling can have a negative impact on goals, academic or professional life, physical and mental health, and personal relationships.
People aged 18 to 24 are more likely to engage in risky gambling behaviours. The part of your brain that controls emotion and logic is not fully developed until you are 24 or 25. As a result, young adults are more likely to take risks or to act impulsively. Being male also increasing the risk of developing a problem with gambling.
Knowing more or playing more often will not guarantee a win. Wins may happen but they are impossible to predict. Gambling is not a way to make money and over time you will lose money.
If you believe someone in your life is struggling with problem gambling; check out these tips of how to start a conversation:
If you are not sure if you if your gambling is a problem, try this quick self screener.
Problem gambling has consequences and, talking to someone about options can help you decide what type of support is right for you. Take the first step by talking to your CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Mental Health Coach, they can provide resources and support. Check out the links below for more information or to find help in your community.
Toll Free Gambling Help Phone Numbers
Help for U.S. Residents
Call the National Council on Problem Gambling 1-800-522-4700 or speak to a counsellor via Webchat.
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