The Scientific Study of Gambling

Gambling is the act of wagering something of value on a random event, such as a football game or scratchcard, with the intent to win something else of value. Some people engage in gambling for social, recreational, or financial reasons. Others become too involved in the activity and experience adverse personal, family, and financial consequences. The scientific study of gambling helps to explain the reasons why some people gamble to problematic levels and identifies factors that can help prevent or treat problem gambling.

In addition to the monetary aspects of gambling, there are also a number of non-monetary impacts. These can be seen at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society level. While the monetary impacts are measurable, the social and interpersonal impacts can be more difficult to assess. Historically, researchers have ignored these impacts in favour of those that are easily quantifiable.

For some people, gambling is a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or loneliness. Others gamble for the thrill of winning money or for a sense of achievement. A small number of people develop serious problems with gambling. Some people may be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity, which can make them more vulnerable to addictive gambling. People in this group may find it harder to recognize a problem and seek help, as they are more likely to have a distorted view of their gambling activity. Other risk factors include the use of alcohol and drugs and the influence of culture, such as a belief that gambling is a common pastime in their community.

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