• Home
  • Public Health and Gambling

Public Health and Gambling

Gambling is an activity that involves placing bets on the outcome of a game. It is a common leisure activity and can provide entertainment, excitement, and even income. It can also be a social activity, providing people with a way to connect with others. For example, many community poker tournaments and charity casino nights bring people together to socialize and raise money for causes.

Humans are biologically motivated to seek rewards, and gambling stimulates the reward center of the brain. This stimulation produces the same feel-good chemicals that occur when we eat a satisfying meal, spend time with loved ones, or exercise. When we win a bet, our brain releases dopamine, which reinforces the behavior and leads to more gambling. In the long run, this cycle can lead to a gambling addiction.

It’s important to recognize the signs of a gambling addiction, and take action to break free from the cycle. If you or someone you know has a gambling disorder, consider therapy, such as psychodynamic therapy (which looks at unconscious processes) or group therapy. You can also try a self-help program, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step recovery model for alcoholism.

In addition, a public health approach to gambling can uncover negative impacts that are not always monetary in nature. When studies focus solely on problem gambling, the impact on non-problem gamblers and society is overlooked. Using disability weights to quantify changes in quality of life can help reveal these impacts.