Gambling Harms


Gambling is an activity that involves putting money on the outcome of an event, whether it’s a football game, a scratchcard or a horse race. People choose what they want to bet on, and this choice is then matched to ’odds’ set by the betting company – for example, 5/1 or 2/1 – that determine how much money they could win if they were successful.

The first category of harm relates to the erosion of savings or financial resources and the loss of the capacity to spend on discretionary, but not luxury, items such as family outings or involvement in artistic, cultural, sporting or educational activities. The second category of harm relates to the impact on relationships with the person who gambles and affected others. Although not able to be quantified as easily as financial harms, the impact on these relationships was viewed as a major threshold in seeking help or treatment.

The final category of harm identified was those that are experienced from a legacy perspective, even after a person has ceased engaging with gambling behaviour. These were deemed to be particularly significant as they could have life course or intergenerational impacts.

If you are worried about someone’s gambling, it’s important to seek help for the problem before it escalates. For those who need it, inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs can be an effective way to recover from a serious gambling addiction. It’s also vital to address any underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, that may be triggering or making the problem worse.