What Is Gambling?

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is influenced by chance rather than skill. It can involve sports events, casino games and even lotteries. A person can also place a bet on horse and greyhound races, football accumulators or other sporting events. Some states have laws that define what constitutes gambling. These laws may change over time.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a pattern of maladaptive gambling behaviors that affects an individual’s quality of life. Typically, people with PG begin gambling in adolescence or young adulthood and continue gambling throughout their lives. Those with PG have difficulty controlling their spending and often gamble to avoid dealing with unpleasant feelings or to relieve boredom. They often lie about how much they gamble or use other illegal acts to fund their gambling. They may also experience severe psychological symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety).

People who struggle with gambling can benefit from treatment. One way to treat gambling addiction is to participate in cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps individuals challenge irrational beliefs and thoughts that contribute to their problem. Other effective treatments include family-based interventions and a 12-step program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous. The first step in treating gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. People who struggle with gambling should seek support from friends and family, and consider joining a gambling peer support group. They can also find help online by using the world’s largest therapy service, which matches them with a professional, licensed and vetted therapist in less than 48 hours.