Gambling 101

Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money or property) on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It involves three elements: consideration, risk and a prize. It is important to remember that gambling has significant short- and long-term financial, physical, social and cultural harms for gamblers and their family members.

There are many different types of gambling, including playing card games or board games for money, participating in a sports betting pool, buying lottery tickets, and using a machine to predict the outcome of events that involve chance (like fruit machines or scratchcards). There are also professional gamblers who make a living from this activity. They have a deep understanding of the game or games they play and are able to use strategy to consistently win over the long term.

Some people have a problem with gambling to an extent that they are not able to control their behavior, even in the face of clear and obvious dangers. These people are called pathological gamblers. Pathological gambling used to be considered a form of impulse control disorder, but the Psychiatric Association recently moved it into the category of addictions in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This change has been a source of considerable controversy and debate. There are now a number of effective treatments for gambling addiction, such as cognitive-behavior therapy and pharmacotherapy. These therapies can help gamblers learn to resist urges to gamble, confront irrational beliefs (like the belief that a recent string of losses means you’re due for a big win) and develop a new pattern of healthy gambling behavior.