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. Gambling is a major international commercial activity and the largest source of legal gambling revenue in the world, with annual wagering estimated at $10 trillion or more (illegal gambling probably exceeds this amount). Gambling is often distinguished from insurance by the absence of a contract between the bettor and the insurer; instead, the gambler assumes the risk of losing money. Nevertheless, the principles of risk and reward are identical, and many gambling laws are modeled on insurance law.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including to change their moods, relieve boredom or stress, socialize, or escape problems. Some are more likely to develop gambling disorders than others, such as people with low incomes who have more to lose and might be tempted to try to make up for losses; young people, particularly boys and men; and those who play video games that use real-world money.
It is important to address problems with gambling early, before they escalate. The earlier treatment is received, the more successful it will be. If you have a friend or family member who has a problem with gambling, help them find the treatment they need by suggesting calling a helpline, talking to a healthcare provider or mental health professional, or joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. When possible, avoid arguing with them about their gambling. This can reinforce their negative behaviors and make them more likely to hide or deny their problem.