Gambling and Practice Theory


When people gamble, they place something of value — usually money — on the outcome of an event that involves chance. Examples include lottery tickets, slot machines, horse races and playing cards. Gambling can also be a social practice, such as betting with friends on sports events or in a game of cards.

The practice theory framework offers a useful way to understand how gambling can become embedded within wider socio-cultural and economic practices that shape attitudes, beliefs and values. Taking a nexus of practices approach, for example, might help us consider how the idea of success and winning may suffuse social practices that incorporate gambling, such as betting on horse races or football games.

There is a range of treatment options for those struggling with gambling addiction. Counseling can help individuals think through their relationship with gambling and consider options for change. It can also support family members to cope with the harm that gambling can cause in their lives, for instance by helping them set boundaries around spending and to manage credit.

While some people who struggle with gambling are able to manage their gambling problems on their own, many need professional help. The good news is that there are many options for treatment, including inpatient and residential treatment and rehabilitation programs. There are also a number of online resources available for self-help, as well as local support groups. For more information about these, and other local services, please see our local directory.