The Relationship Between Gambling and Other Risky Behaviours

Gambling involves risking something of value, such as money or property, in the hope of winning a prize. It can take many forms, from scratching tickets in a lottery to betting on horse races or casino games. It can be harmful, causing problems with relationships, work or study. It can even lead to serious debt and homelessness. There is no one form of gambling that is more addictive than others, and the risk for problems can vary from person to person.

People who gamble can be affected by a range of issues, including the feeling that they have to keep gambling to feel normal or satisfied, and not just because it is enjoyable. They may also hide their gambling from friends and family, lying about how much they are spending or hiding evidence of their gambling. They can also feel compelled to gamble even when they have lost money, often increasing their bets in a bid to win it back.

While the majority of people who gamble do not experience problem gambling, for some it is a serious issue that has the potential to cause significant harm. In the worst cases, it can destroy a person’s health and their relationships with their family and friends, lead to bankruptcy, and even cause them to kill themselves. It is estimated that more than 400 suicides per year are associated with problem gambling. It can also lead to substance misuse, which in turn has a negative impact on the economy and society. It is therefore crucial to understand how gambling works, and to recognise the signs of problems so that you can get help if you need it.

The ALSPAC study examined whether there was a relationship between childhood factors and later gambling behaviour, and found that a number of associations remained after adjustment for individual, parental and socioeconomic status (SES) variables. These included the association between lower childhood IQ and regular gambling, and between hyperactivity and sensation seeking in males and the association with sensation-seeking and previous videogame playing in females. A high external locus of control (feeling low personal control over life) was also associated with regular gambling, and this was found in both genders.

Although the study used a large sample, there were still some limitations. Firstly, the sample was predominately white, so this will have led to an underestimation of the prevalence and characteristics of those who gamble. In addition, the data were self-reported, and reliance on recall bias means that this can be inaccurate. Therefore, it is important that future studies use a wider variety of methodologies to ensure that the results are valid. In particular, they should incorporate the use of objective measures of gambling activity and the use of a longitudinal design. This will help to reduce the uncertainty about the relationships between antecedents and gambling behaviour.