What is Gambling?


A form of risk-taking that involves placing something of value, such as money or property, on the outcome of a game or contest. It is also an activity in which the bettor is conscious of the risk that he or she may lose something of value, or that the event will not take place as expected (American Psychiatric Association 2000). Gambling is distinct from bona fide business transactions and other activities valid under law such as insurance contracts, purchases of goods and services, and life, health and accident insurance.

Some people gamble to relieve unpleasant feelings or boredom, or as a way of socializing with friends. However, these activities are not the answer to problems like depression, loneliness, anxiety or stress. In fact, they can even make them worse. Instead, people with these mood disorders should seek treatment for their symptoms and learn to cope with them in healthier ways, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, or practicing relaxation techniques.

People engage in gambling because it is an enjoyable pastime, and there are many different types of gambling games that can be played. For example, people can bet on sports events, horse races, or the outcome of a lottery draw. In some cases, gamblers even bet with things other than money such as marbles or collectible gaming pieces (such as discs from the game Pogs or trading cards from Magic: The Gathering).

Regardless of what kind of gambling is being done, there are a number of factors that can contribute to compulsive gambling. These include:

When a person begins to have problems with gambling, they often find themselves chasing their losses, trying to win back their money. This can lead to serious financial difficulties and can interfere with relationships, work, school or other hobbies. In addition, some people will begin to lie to their family members or therapist about their gambling to hide the extent of their involvement.

Another factor that can trigger or make gambling problems worse is alcohol or other drugs. Some people will start to use gambling as a way to relieve their negative moods, and this can lead to substance abuse or other forms of self-harm. This is especially common when people are depressed, anxious or stressed.

It can be difficult to recognise that you have a problem with gambling, and it is often a gradual process. There are many organisations that offer support, assistance and counselling for people with gambling problems. These services can help you learn to control your gambling and avoid it becoming a problem. Some of these services are free, and some are available online. You can also contact your local gambling helpline for information and advice.