Problem gambling is a compulsion to continue gambling despite the desire to stop and suffering the negative consequences it may have. It can have a serious financial impact on the person and their loved ones and can also cause severe stress, depression and anxiety.
A lot of terms are used to refer to individuals facing difficulties related to their gambling. Not all people who gamble excessively are alike, nor are the problems they face. People with gambling problems are found in all age groups, income groups, cultures and jobs. Some people develop gambling problems suddenly, while for others. it could develop over many years.
Problem gambling is generally used to indicate all the patterns of disruptive or damaging gambling behaviour.
The amount you can safely spend on gambling comes down to your circumstances and what amount you’re able to lose, without it affecting your ability to pay for other things. For some people, even a few euro may mean they (or others) have to go without weekly essentials. You should ask yourself regularly – is your gambling just for fun?
There are some questions you can ask yourself if you are unsure about whether gambling is becoming an issue for you. Please click here to read them. There are also some tips on how to ensure you keep gambling fun and safe, which can be accessed by clicking here.
How gambling affects the brain
In this video clip Professor David Nutt shows a gambler being given a tablet upon which to gamble online. The gambler is then put into an MRI scanner and his brain activity is monitored. The response is identical whether he’s winning or losing. The brain’s reward centres are lighting up and releasing dopamine whether the gambler is winning or losing. It is the anticipation of winning that is causing this apparent dissonance between what is being expected and what is actually happening. The illusion of winning, the promise of winning causes an obsessional thinking about the event long after it has physically ceased.
Use our budget calculator to analyse your spending habits and review how much of your discretionary income you spend on gambling. It is fast and easy to use, and you may find it very helpful.