How to Prevent a Gambling Problem

Gambling involves risking money or something of value by making a bet on the outcome of a game of chance, such as a lottery or scratch-off ticket. It can also involve betting on sports events or horse races or playing games of skill, such as poker or video poker. Gambling can be fun and exciting, but it can also cause serious problems. It can affect a person’s mental health, family and job, and even lead to addiction or bankruptcy. Problem gambling can cause people to lie, steal and borrow, or hide their gambling activities from others. It can interfere with a person’s ability to work or study, and it can cause relationships to suffer. It can also lead to legal trouble and even homelessness.

While anyone can develop a gambling problem, it is more common among certain groups of people. For example, research shows that up to 2.5 million U.S. adults (about 1% of the population) meet the criteria for pathological gambling, while another 5-8 million people (2-3%) have mild to moderate problems. People who have mild or moderate problems may experience recreational interest, diminished mathematical skills, poor judgment, and cognitive distortions, but they do not meet the full criteria for a diagnosis of pathological gambling.

People can be addicted to all types of gambling, including casino games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, as well as lotteries, video poker, and slot machines. They can also be addicted to card games, such as poker and rummy, and other types of games, such as dice, keno, and bingo. They can also become addicted to online casinos, where they can bet on horse races and sports events.

Some people are at a higher risk for developing a gambling problem because of genetics, their environment, or other factors. They can also be at risk if they have co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety, or if they use alcohol and/or drugs in addition to gambling.

A person can prevent a gambling problem by limiting their time and money and setting goals for themselves. They can also strengthen their support network and find other ways to have fun without gambling. They can try a new hobby or activity, or they can join a peer support group. Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a 12-step program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous that can help people recover from their addictions. They can also ask their doctor for advice or contact a counselor. If they’re a student at CU Boulder, they can schedule a counseling or psychiatry appointment using AcademicLiveCare. The service is free and available 24/7. If they’re not a student, they can call the National Problem Gambling Helpline or visit GamTalk for online peer support. They can also use this comprehensive database to filter providers by specialties and insurance coverage.