Mental Health Effects of Gambling


Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or other assets by predicting the outcome of events that are based on chance, such as sports matches, games of skill like poker or blackjack, or scratchcards. If they are right, they win money. If they are wrong, they lose the money they bet.

Gambling can have positive and negative effects on a person’s life, including their mental health. Those who struggle with gambling often experience depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. If these symptoms persist, talk to your doctor. They can recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you manage your thinking and behaviour. CBT can help you learn to soothe unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.

In a recent debate on complementing and contrasting views on the impact of gambling, a public health perspective was suggested to provide a framework for future research on gambling impacts. This conceptual model can be used to identify gaps in current knowledge, such as how to evaluate the social impacts of gambling, which are difficult to quantify and have not been included in previous studies because they do not aggregate monetary wealth.

For example, social impacts include harms experienced by family members and significant others, which are not monetary in nature, but do contribute to overall well-being. Other social impacts can be derived from the community level such as a sense of belonging or social connectedness, which can arise from joining a gambling club for example, or socializing with friends who also enjoy gambling.