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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Positive Health Benefits of Recreational Gambling

One of the main reasons that gambling is popular is because it can be plenty of fun. Although addictive gambling is a serious public health concern, there is some evidence that recreational gambling in moderation could have some positive health benefits.

Gambling takes many forms, from a friendly wager with friends and family, to lottery scratch off tickets, to slot machines, and neighborhood poker. Each state and country has different laws about gambling that you should be familiar with. For anyone staying in Canada, here is some information about the legality of casino gaming in Canada - online-casinos-canada.ca/legal.

As per this article on NBCNews.com, a study carried out at Yale based on telephone interviews indicates that recreational gamblers aged 65 and older report better health that their non-gambling peers. Click this link to read the full study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072825. It was also found that older gamblers report less alcoholism and depression than younger gamblers. However, the same study found that problem/pathological gambling was uniformly associated with poorer health measures among both younger and older adults.

Some gambling activities provide ample opportunities to socialize, get together with friends, and make new friends, provided that you opt for the right games. Poker seems to be the best choice in this regard as there’s plenty of socializing that happens at the Texas Hold‘em tables. There has been some research to show that nursing home residents engaged in simulated gambling activities showed higher happiness levels compared to their baseline levels. Mental health benefits of gambling can sometimes be attributed to socialization but also to the use of problem-solving skills, concentration, and memory. Many will be surprised to know that scientists use a measure known as the Iowa Gambling Task (see Wikipedia.org entry) to evaluate frontal lobe brain functioning based on how respondents use good and bad decks of cards on a computer simulated gambling game.

The key to avoiding a gambling problem is to do so in moderation. That means setting a pre-specified budget of money that you can afford to lose in the worst case scenario and to not try to then gamble more to earn any losses back. Gamblers also need to keep base rates in mind: in the end, the house will always come out on top. Remembering this can also help avoid spending too much money when it comes to gambling. Lastly, if you have an addictive and/or impulsive personality or any type of cognitive impairment (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia, traumatic brain injury), gambling would be something to best avoid. Addictive gambling can result in depression, alcoholism, bankruptcy, marital discord, and even self-harm so it is best to keep gambling a recreational activity that is done in moderation. 

This is a guest blog entry.

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