Gambling is risking something of value – such as money, property or reputation – for the hope of winning additional value. It involves an element of chance or randomness and requires three key elements: consideration, chance and a prize. Gambling is a major international activity and occurs in many forms, including lotteries, sports betting (including football accumulators), scratchcards, casinos and other gaming machines, and betting on events such as horse races and political elections.
Compulsive gambling, also known as gambling disorder, is an addictive condition that causes people to gamble despite the harm it causes their lives and relationships. It can trigger the brain’s reward system in much the same way as drugs or alcohol and cause people to hide their behaviour or resort to theft or fraud to fund their habit.
For those who have a problem with gambling, the best option is to seek help. There are a range of treatments and services available, from self-help groups like Gamblers Anonymous to inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. If you’re supporting someone with a gambling addiction, it’s important to set boundaries in managing their money. If they’re unable to control their spending, you may need to limit access to your credit cards and other financial resources or take over managing their finances. However, if you do this, it’s vital to have your own support network in place so that you’re not isolated from others who can help you.