Recognising the Positive Aspects of Gambling

Gambling is the staking of something of value (a bet) on an uncertain event with awareness of risk in the hope of winning. It can take many forms, from the small sums bet by people who cannot afford much, to sophisticated casino gambling by wealthy individuals. It can be a social pastime, as when friends play card games or board games for small amounts of money; or it can be a serious career – such as professional football betting or lottery staking.

Many gamblers do not realise that the odds are always in favour of the house. They feel excited when they win, but also when they lose – because the brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with reward. It is easy to overdose on this feeling, and gamblers often find it difficult to break the cycle.

More effective treatment for gambling addiction is desperately needed. Some individuals can overcome their addiction through the help of professionals; others can do so on their own, and with the support of family and friends. For some, breaking the addiction can be a long journey, but it is possible. People such as Chris Murphy, who once gambled online at night while his girlfriend slept beside him; and James Grimes, who lost everything betting on football, are now helping others disentangle themselves from the game they love.

But while it is important to recognize gambling’s negative impacts, we must also recognise its positive aspects and societal contributions. From stimulating economic growth and providing entertainment to fostering cognitive skills, gambling has many benefits when regulated responsibly.