Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result may be determined by chance or accident. It excludes activities such as buying and selling securities (e.g. shares) or insurance where skill and knowledge play a part. It is also not the same as investing, which involves putting money into investments for the long term.
Many people enjoy gambling for a variety of reasons. It can be a way to socialise or escape from stress and worries. It can also provide a high and artificial sense of excitement, which is linked to the brain’s reward system.
While some people do not gamble problematically, others find it difficult to control their gambling. In some cases, the behaviour causes harm to family and friends or leads to serious debts. In addition, there are those who become addicted to gambling and have a serious problem that requires professional treatment. This is called compulsive gambling and is recognised in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
People can get help for a gambling addiction by using support groups, attending professional treatment or trying self-help tips. A key tip is to only gamble with disposable income, and never spend more than you can afford to lose. It is also important to make a budget before you start gambling and stick to it.