Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the intention of winning something else of value. It can be a fun and exciting form of entertainment, but it is important to understand the risks involved. If you are worried about your gambling habits, it is important to get help. There are a number of organisations who can offer support and advice.

People gamble for a variety of reasons, including the adrenaline rush and the socialising aspects. However, gambling can be harmful if it is out of control and a person starts to lose money or have health problems as a result of their behaviour. There are a number of ways to get help, such as therapy and peer support groups. You can also try self-help tips, such as strengthening your support network or staying busy.

While the majority of the population will have a gambled at some point, for some this becomes an addiction that can affect their health, relationships and finances. Problem gambling can lead to debt, depression and even thoughts of suicide, so it is important to seek help if you are concerned about your own gambling habits or those of a friend or family member.

There are many factors that contribute to gambling problems, but age and sex are particularly important. Compulsive gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people, but it can also happen at any stage of life. It is more likely that a person will become addicted to gambling if they have family members who have gambling problems, or if they were exposed to it as a child.

Research into the impacts of gambling has been conducted from several different perspectives, but there are a number of challenges to identifying and measuring these impacts. A key difficulty is defining what constitutes a social cost or benefit. In a traditional economic context, this is measured using monetary values, but this approach fails to take into account the wider implications of gambling.

A better way to identify and measure the costs and benefits of gambling is to use a longitudinal design. This allows researchers to investigate how a person’s gambling participation changes over time, allowing them to see how gambling can affect their personal and professional lives. Furthermore, longitudinal data can help determine which factors moderate and exacerbate an individual’s gambling behaviour, allowing them to draw conclusions about causality. This type of research is also more cost-efficient than creating many smaller studies that are limited by the scope of their data. In addition, it can be used to discover a range of intangible impacts on gamblers and their significant others, such as emotional distress, family problems, increased unemployment, and reduced quality of life. These are known as the ‘invisible’ costs of gambling. These effects can be observed at the personal, interpersonal and society/community levels (Fig. 1). These impacts are often overlooked in favour of the more obvious financial, labor and health and well-being impacts.