Public Health and Gambling


Whether it’s buying lottery tickets, betting on sports events or using pokies (Aussia’s version of slot machines), gambling is a regular part of many people’s lives. But for some, it becomes a compulsive addiction that leads to debt and other problems. Those with this problem need professional help and the support of family, friends and a self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous.

Research suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy can be very effective. It helps gamblers confront their irrational beliefs, like the belief that a series of losses will eventually turn into a big win. It also teaches them to control their emotions, which can stop gambling-related urges from happening.

In addition to therapy, there are other methods of helping gamblers quit: self-help books; seeking financial assistance from the government, banks or credit unions; and participating in a self-help group such as Gamblers’ Anonymous. Physical activities such as walking, yoga or going to a gym may help too. Some studies have found that alcohol and other drug abuse is often a symptom of gambling disorder, so these drugs should be avoided as much as possible.

Although some studies have examined the negative impacts of gambling, focusing only on pathological gambling is misleading, as all types of gambling can cause harms to society. A public health approach looks at the entire severity spectrum of gambling, including both nonproblematic and problem gambling, as well as the benefits. It also considers indirect costs and benefits, such as the impact of gambling on the economy, infrastructure and tourism.

Posted in: Gambling