Gambling As a Social Practice
Gambling is a social practice in which people risk something of value to win another thing of value. Unlike sports betting, which involves a team or individual’s performance, gambling is based on the outcome of a random event. It is possible to gamble in any number of ways, including online or in casinos, and it can be a way to socialise or escape from worries or stress. However, for many people, it can become an addiction and can have negative consequences for their mental health.
There is a wealth of research on problem gambling that focuses on individual behaviour, but there is a smaller but growing corpus of work considering gambling as a social practice. Taking a social practice perspective can help to broaden the scope of harm reduction strategies by acknowledging how various forces shape gambling practices. These include business interests, governments, different economic and social policies, as well as wider cultural and societal trends.
One such force is the power of the gambling industry to commodify gambling through branding and advertising. The marketing of gambling draws on socio-cultural constructs such as rituals, mateship, winning and success, social status, thrill and adventure and hedonism. These lend themselves well to a social practice approach, and this may provide the basis for interventions that could limit access to gambling spaces, impose limits on advertising and other promotional activities, and encourage broader and more positive attitudes towards gambling.
A second way in which gambling can be harmful is its tendency to exacerbate existing problems and create new ones. In addition to causing financial difficulties, gambling can also lead to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. If you are concerned about your own or a family member’s mental health, get in touch with a specialist or seek medical advice immediately.
If you have a gambling problem, it is important to recognise the symptoms and take action. While it is challenging to break the habit, it can be done, and there are a range of treatment and recovery programs available. Some are residential and offer around-the-clock care and support. Others are self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which operates in a similar way to Alcoholics Anonymous.
In addition, it is important to set boundaries in managing your money. This includes setting a bankroll, ensuring that you are only spending what you can afford to lose, and never borrowing money to gamble. You should also close your online gambling accounts, and limit your time spent gambling to when you have other commitments. This will prevent you from becoming engrossed in gambling and losing track of time. Finally, it is important to learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in other healthy ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practising relaxation techniques. A successful recovery from gambling problems requires a lot of strength and motivation, but you are not alone in your struggle. There are many other people who have overcome this addiction and can share their stories with you.