How Gambling Affects Health and Wellbeing


Gambling is the wagering of something of value – usually money – on an event with some degree of chance, such as a lottery draw or a game of cards. It is a popular pastime and a global industry, and while many people enjoy gambling for fun or as a way to relax, it can lead to compulsive gambling which can have serious effects on health and wellbeing.

In the case of problem gambling, a combination of therapy and lifestyle changes can be effective. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one treatment that teaches people to resist unhealthy thoughts, such as the false belief that a series of losses signals an imminent win, and can teach them strategies for dealing with financial, work, and relationship problems. Treatment should also address any underlying conditions that might be contributing to the gambling addiction, such as depression or anxiety.

Although research into gambling’s benefits and costs is limited, some studies show that casinos can have beneficial impacts on local economies. These include bringing down unemployment rates, raising wages, and increasing tax revenues for the city in which they operate. These benefits may be offset by externalities such as increased crime and social service costs.

A growing body of evidence shows that gambling can be addictive and, if left untreated, can have serious negative consequences for a person’s health and well-being. For some, a serious gambling disorder can be life-threatening. If you feel your problem is threatening your life, please call 999 or visit A&E immediately. If you’re worried about debt caused by gambling, StepChange offers free and confidential debt advice.