Reducing the Risk of Gambling

A gamble involves wagering something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome. The outcome is often determined by chance, such as the roll of a dice or spin of a roulette wheel, but it could also be based on skill (e.g. a horse race or poker game). Gambling is a widespread activity and a source of entertainment, with a long history in both regulated and unregulated forms. It has been a source of excitement, euphoria, and personal gain for some people, but can also be detrimental to others.

Despite its widespread availability, gambling is not without its risks and consequences. Problem gambling can lead to severe debt and homelessness, harm physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study, or get people into legal trouble. The risk of addiction and harms related to gambling can be reduced by playing responsibly.

Gambling is different to other types of consumer products, as it is a form of recreation that relies on luck and a false sense of skill. The marketing of gambling is therefore often designed to manipulate this bias, through slick advertising campaigns that highlight the high stakes and glamour associated with gambling, as well as by using emotive imagery and celebrity endorsements to appeal to people’s emotions.

While many people gamble for fun, some gamble to escape their problems or feel better about themselves, and other people do it as a way to make money. While it is possible to profit from gambling, the chances of winning are much lower than those of losing, and most gamblers will lose some of their money.

There are a number of ways that people can reduce their risk when gambling, including:

Setting a budget before you go to the casino and sticking to it. It is a good idea to remove credit and debit card information from your phone and tablet so you can’t autofill on sites, and only use cash when gambling. Always tip your dealer, either by handing them a chip and clearly saying “This is for you” or by placing your bets for you. It’s also a good idea to never drink free cocktails, as they can make you more impulsive and reckless with your betting.

CU Boulder students can access help and support on a range of topics, including gambling, through AcademicLiveCare. This is a virtual counseling and psychiatry service that allows all CU Boulder students, staff, and faculty to schedule a screening or a Let’s Talk session with a provider. This service is free to all students and provides access to professionals from across the country. For more information, visit the AcademicLiveCare website.