Gambling involves risking something of value (money, property or other assets) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. People gamble for many reasons, including to try and win money, socialise or escape from worries or stress. But for some people gambling can be a serious problem and can have lasting effects on their lives. If you are worried about your own or someone else’s gambling, read on to find out more about what it is, the risks involved and how to get help.
The earliest evidence of gambling was found in ancient China, with tiles dating back to 2,300 B.C. believed to be used for a form of lottery. Today, gambling is a big industry with millions of people playing online and offline, with some even spending more than they can afford to lose. But it’s important to know your limits and never gamble with money that you can’t afford to lose.
There are different types of gambling, from predicting the outcome of a football match to buying scratchcards. People who gamble with a purpose, such as to win money, are known as professional gamblers. Those who gamble for fun, often with friends, are known as casual or social gamblers.
In the past, the psychiatric community has viewed pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder, along with kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). But in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association has moved it into the category of addiction. This reflects a growing understanding that pathological gambling is actually an addiction like other substances and behaviors.