Gambling 101

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that is primarily determined by chance, with the intent of winning something else of value. The act of gambling requires three elements: consideration, risk and a prize. Often the prizes are money, but can also be items like property, services or other valuables. The game of gambling has existed in virtually every society since prerecorded history and has been incorporated into many social customs and rites of passage. While most people enjoy gambling and play it responsibly, a subset develops problem gambling that affects their family, friends, health, work and community life. The understanding of the adverse consequences of excessive gambling has undergone a paradigm shift similar to that seen with alcoholism and is reflected in, or stimulated by, the evolving clinical classification of pathological gambling in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Scientific research suggests that a person’s brain does not fully mature until age 25, which is why gamblers are often more reckless and likely to exhibit bad habits than others. It is also believed that gamblers are predisposed to the pleasure and reward of winning, which causes a neurological response in the brain that can become addictive.

Gambling is a major worldwide commercial activity. It contributes a percentage to the GDP of countries all over the world and provides employment to a huge number of people. It is also a recreational activity and many people use it to kill boredom or pass time. In addition to being entertaining, gambling can help to sharpen a person’s observational skills and mental tasking abilities by teaching them how to study patterns and numbers.