Real Life Stories of Gambling Harm


Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. While instances of strategy are discounted, gamblers must consider the possibility that they could lose. Gambling has been around for thousands of years and is now a global industry with numerous legal and illegal forms. While some people gamble responsibly, for others it can be dangerous and cause harm. It can impact a person’s mental health, relationships, performance at work or study and even result in debt and homelessness.

Pathological gambling is thought to be caused by a number of personal psychological factors. However, this explanation does not explain why pathological gambling has increased so dramatically since 1974, especially when compared to previous historical periods. Other non-psychological factors must have facilitated this rise in gambling, such as technological advancements, new modes of communication and increased media coverage.

It is also important to recognise that gambling is a social practice and that the practice is often bundled with other social practices, such as drinking, watching sports or visiting casinos. The practice of gambling is therefore influenced by both individual personality and attitudes, as well as the broader socio-cultural context in which it takes place.

A more holistic and integrated approach to gambling research may also be able to address some of the gaps in existing knowledge and understanding. This could be achieved by adopting a practice theory perspective, which acknowledges that the ’doing’ of gambling is comprised of a variety of elements such as bodily and mental activities, use of materials, language and discourse, spaces and places, and power and norms, which are all utilised and performed routinely to form a particular patterned habit or activity.

There are many ways to reduce the risk of gambling-related harm, including setting a budget for your gambling spending, only using money that you can afford to lose and not using credit or debit cards that you need to pay bills and rent. It is also important to learn how to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or trying relaxation techniques.

Getting professional and anonymous help is essential for anyone who is concerned about their or a loved one’s gambling. The following real life stories of people who have experienced harm related to gambling show that there is support available to help you start to feel better. For further information and help, visit the GambleAware website or call the free helpline 0808 802 2828.