How to Control Your Gambling


The activity of gambling is defined as “the wagering of something of value on an event or outcome that is based in some way on chance.” In general, this means betting on sports games or horse races, but it can also apply to lottery tickets, video poker machines and other activities. Gambling can be legal or illegal, and it can take place in a variety of settings, including casinos, racetracks, and online.

Problem gambling is a serious addiction that can cause real harm to people’s lives. It can lead to family breakdown, financial disaster, debt and even suicide. Problem gambling can affect anyone, regardless of social status, age or education. However, there are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing a gambling problem, including family history, genetics, environment and medical history.

While the prospect of winning big money is certainly a motivating factor for many gamblers, it is not the only one. Some gamble for emotional and social rewards, while others find it a relaxing and stress-relieving activity. The thrill of the game also stimulates the brain, producing dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. The resulting excitement can be addictive, and may even outweigh the fear of losing money.

A key to controlling gambling is to set a budget and stick to it. Before you go to the casino, decide how much of your disposable income you will allocate to gambling and only use that amount. If you do win, don’t be tempted to chase your losses by betting more than your original total. This is a dangerous and often unsuccessful strategy known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” The truth is, you’re almost always going to lose some money when gambling.

It is also important to stay focused on the task at hand and avoid distractions. Keeping a notepad with you to write down your thoughts and feelings can help keep you from getting distracted while playing. Another good strategy is to set an alarm on your phone or watch so that you know when to stop. This is especially helpful in a casino, which is often free of clocks and windows, making it easy to spend hours there without realising it.

Counseling is a useful tool for those struggling with gambling addictions. It can help them understand their gambling addiction and think through options for addressing it, such as family therapy and debt counseling. It can also help them repair their relationships and finances. Some people find it helpful to join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you are worried that you might have a gambling problem, talk to a trusted friend or family member. Consider getting professional help from a gambling counselling service or attending a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. Alternatively, try exercising or taking up a new hobby. Changing your routine can help you overcome your urge to gamble and start living again. In addition, counseling can help you address the underlying issues that caused your gambling disorder.