How to Avoid Problem Gambling

Gambling is any activity in which you place something of value – usually money – for the chance to win. You can gamble at casinos, race tracks, online, in arcades, at sporting events and in many other places. Gambling can also be played with marbles or collectible trading card game pieces, as in games of Pogs and Magic: The Gathering.

Problem gambling is an addictive behavior that can lead to serious financial, emotional, family and occupational consequences. It can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnic background or education. It can start as early as adolescence and continue throughout life. Problem gambling is also linked to depression and other mood disorders.

The key to avoiding gambling problems is to stop before you lose control. Don’t be tempted by credit cards, have someone else be in charge of your finances, close online betting accounts and keep only a small amount of cash on you when you’re gambling. Also make sure that gambling does not interfere with, or take over from, your family, friends, hobbies, work and exercise. Keep in mind that the odds of losing are much greater than winning. Avoid chasing your losses, by setting a time limit for how long you will gamble and leaving when that time is up, whether you’re winning or losing.

Consider getting counseling to understand your behavior and how it affects you and your family. Counseling can help you identify triggers and develop healthier ways of coping with unpleasant feelings.