Gambling involves risking something of value (money, property, or life) on an outcome that is determined by chance and/or skill. There are several forms of gambling including scratchcards, fruit machines, online casino games, and betting with friends or family. It can be addictive, and it can have serious negative impacts on a person’s life. Problem gambling can interfere with work, family and relationships, lead to legal problems and even homelessness. It can also cause depression and anxiety.

Gamble responsibly and within your means. Keep track of how much money you are spending and how much time you are spending gambling. If you think your gambling is out of control, seek help immediately. If you are a friend or family member of someone with a gambling problem, offer support and encourage them to get treatment. You can also call a helpline, go to a support group, or find counselling services for gamblers and their families.

The most common causes of gambling disorders are underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety, substance misuse or other addictions and financial pressures. In fact, compulsive gambling is often a symptom of other disorders such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. It is important to have a thorough psychiatric evaluation and diagnose the underlying issue before treating the gambling disorder.

Many people who have a gambling disorder find that they gamble as a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, socialise or relieve boredom. However, there are healthier and more effective ways of relieving these feelings. For example, you can practice relaxation techniques, spend time with friends who don’t gamble or take up a new hobby.

While research and policy approaches to the reduction of gambling harm are predominantly framed through psychological and economic models of individual behaviour, addiction and rational action, there is growing interest in socio-cultural perspectives. These include a social practice theory approach that incorporates critical and normative insights.

The social practice theory framework can be applied to understand how and why individuals perform gambling practices in the way that they do, highlighting how culture and environment shape them. It can also be used to examine how the changing nature of gambling practices, such as the relaxation of regulations and development of new technologies, affects them. This perspective can contribute to a new paradigm in gambling research and help inform appropriate harm reduction strategies.