Gambling is a behavior that involves wagering something of value on an event with uncertain outcomes. This activity is often associated with social, health and financial problems. People gamble for a variety of reasons including: for social purposes, to win money, to have fun, or as a way to pass time. Problem gambling can have serious consequences for both the person with the problem and those around them. Problem gambling is a complex behavior that requires a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Research has demonstrated negative impacts of gambling on individuals, families, communities and businesses. The most comprehensive approach to measuring the costs and benefits of gambling is the longitudinal design. Longitudinal data allow researchers to identify factors that moderate and exacerbate an individual’s gambling participation.

However, there are several methodological challenges to longitudinal studies of gambling. These include establishing a stable participant group, ensuring research team continuity over a multiyear period, and confounding effects from other factors. In addition, a longitudinal study is expensive to conduct and may not be feasible for many researchers.

A good first step for anyone battling gambling addiction is to strengthen their support network. This can be done by spending time with non-gambling friends, joining a club or book club, volunteering for a cause, enrolling in an education class, or signing up for a peer support program such as Gamblers Anonymous. Alternatively, they can seek professional help via clinics like Sporting Chance, run by former England footballer Tony Adams to assist athletes with gambling issues.