Understanding the Causes of Gambling


A person gambles by putting something of value, or “money,” on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. Gambling is an activity that can be influenced by many forces, including social, economic and cultural factors, but also the person’s personal attitudes and beliefs. For example, people may start gambling as a way to enjoy entertainment or social activities, or they may develop a problem because of other life stressors.

Gambling can be addictive and a source of problems for people of all ages and from all walks of life. It affects men and women, the young and old, those from rich and poor backgrounds, those with and without education, and those in cities and rural areas. It can even lead to suicide.

Some individuals are especially vulnerable to developing problems with gambling. These include those who are depressed, grieving or have financial problems. In addition, certain personality traits and experiences can make someone more prone to problem gambling, such as being impulsive or having a low tolerance for risk. Some individuals may feel compelled to hide their gambling habits and lie about it, or they may be unable to stop gambling once they begin, often upping their stakes in a desperate attempt to win lost money back.

For all these reasons, it is important to understand the complex causes of gambling-related problems. This will require a more holistic understanding of gambling and how it intersects with other social practices. Practice theorists have drawn attention to how various forces, such as affect, general understandings and ideology, can suffuse a nexus of practices.