Gambling 101

Gambling involves risking money or something else of value to try to predict the outcome of a game based on chance. The gambler hopes to win a prize, which can range from nothing to a life-changing jackpot.

Although gambling has been popular in the United States for centuries, it was suppressed by law in many areas until the late 20th century when it became more widely legalized. Today, gambling is available in nearly every state, and you can play online from the comfort of your home.

Problem gambling can have a devastating impact on an individual’s physical and mental health, relationships, work or study performance and personal finances. People with gambling problems can become homeless, experience substance use disorders and even commit suicide. Research shows that gambling overstimulates the brain’s reward system in a similar way to alcohol or drugs, and some individuals may be more prone to developing a problem than others.

If you have a gambling problem, there are several ways you can seek help and support. You can call a helpline, join a support group for gamblers or attend a self-help group for family members such as Gam-Anon. You can also practice healthier coping skills, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. You can also seek counseling or psychiatry services through AcademicLiveCare, a free virtual service for CU Boulder students, staff and faculty. Lastly, you can schedule a screening or visit during a Let’s Talk session at CUCRC.