Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope of winning. It can be done with money, or items that have value but are not money (such as marbles in a marbles game, or collectible trading cards in games such as Pogs or Magic: The Gathering). Gambling can also take place over the internet, with a virtual currency called ‘virtual chips’.
The chances of an event occurring are reflected by ‘odds’, which are calculated using a probability model. However, the odds can be distorted by a number of cognitive and motivational biases, including the gambler’s fallacy, the illusory certainty effect, and amotivational influences.
In addition to these psychological factors, there are a number of biological mechanisms that influence an individual’s response to gambling. For example, some people may have an underactive reward system in the brain or a tendency to be more impulsive. In addition, research suggests that some people may be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours.
The first step in overcoming gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. It takes strength and courage to admit this, especially if you have lost a lot of money or suffered strained or broken relationships as a result. Talking to a counsellor is a safe and confidential way to get support. We can help you find a therapist who is trained to treat gambling addiction.