The Basics of Gambling


Gambling is the act of betting money or other stakes on events with an uncertain outcome, typically for the purpose of winning more than one’s initial wager. It is an activity that may be social, recreational or purely a business venture.

The term “gambling” refers to a variety of activities, including sports betting, lottery games, gambling machines, gaming tables and scratchcards. All are chance-based, meaning that the results of each game or bet are largely random. The ability to play a game of skill can reduce the randomness of a game, but knowledge of certain strategies does not guarantee a win (Bruce and Johnson, 1996).


People who gamble tend to take risks in order to feel excitement and thrills, which can be linked to feelings of arousal and positive emotions. Zuckerman’s theory of sensation-seeking, for example, suggests that people with gambling problems have a tendency to enjoy risky behavior in order to obtain stimulation or rewards that are pleasurable and arousing.

In addition, Cloninger (1987) proposed a relationship between a desire for diverse sensations and the consumption of alcohol. She suggested that individuals who consume alcohol are likely to gamble, as well.

Although many people do not experience gambling problems, their participation in the activity can lead to negative effects in their lives. These can include financial burdens and difficulties in controlling their spending, as well as interpersonal relationships and poor health. For this reason, many jurisdictions prohibit or heavily regulate gambling. Some governments even license gambling vendors and tax their profits.