Gambling is a topic that divides people, not least governments. Some want to ban it altogether, others see the benefits and believe that gambling should be regulated in a similar way as alcohol is. The fact is that whether we like it or not, gambling is going to happen – and it will certainly boost the economy. The key is to keep it within regulated and safe parameters.

Gambling can be as informal as a single person or group making a bet (e.g., ‘I bet you that doesn’t work…’) or as formal as an agreement between two or more parties on terms for a wager such as a race or a game of chance. The term can also be used to refer to the process of making a financial bet on an event that is uncertain in outcome such as a horse race, game of chance or even an election.

There are both positive and negative impacts of gambling based on a model that classifies costs and benefits in three categories: personal, interpersonal and society/community levels. The personal level impacts are invisible to gamblers and include the emotional cost, the loss of control and the inability to stop gambling. Interpersonal level impacts are indirect costs to gamblers’ family members. Societal level impacts are general, costs related to problem gambling and long-term effects of gambling.

For individuals struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s important to reach out for help. You can seek support from friends and family or consider joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also therapists who specialize in problem gambling, as well as marriage, career and credit counseling.