Can Gambling Be Healthy?

healthyGambling can be a “healthy” activity, in that it can be an enjoyable form of entertainment or socialization. For youth, gambling poses an interesting problem because gambling is illegal in Ontario for anyone under the age of 18 years. Although it is illegal, there is no denying that many youth gamble, so it is important that parents or guardians know how to teach healthy habits and behaviours – even if your child does not gamble currently.

Gambling Can Be Healthy…

  • when gambling is just another occasional activity for a person who enjoys a range of recreational activities.
  • when bets of money or material items are reasonable, calculated, and safe.
  • when it is easy to stop.
  • when a person recognizes that winning at gambling can be fun, but it isn’t everything.
  • when a person recognizes that losing at gambling can be disappointing, but it isn’t everything.
  • when a person understands the reality of lotteries or gambling activities – that the chances of winning are often very small.

Gambling Is Unhealthy…

  • when other aspects of life are neglected in order to gamble (i.e. time with family, work, or school).
  • when gambling becomes an “escape” from problems, or worries.
  • when a person goes into debt from gambling.
  • when a person “chases their losses”, meaning that they gamble to try to win back what they have lost.
  • when a person steals in order to get money for gambling.
  • when a person becomes consumed with thoughts of gambling.
  • when so much money is spent on gambling that a person can no longer afford their basic needs (i.e. education, clothes, food, etc.)
  • when a person feels that he or she cannot stop gambling.

Sources: O’Connor, J. (2004). Problem Gambling: A Guide for Partners & Family Members. South Australia: Government of South Australia.