What Is Gambling?

Gambling is a behavior that involves risking something of value for the chance to win a prize. It can be a form of entertainment, or a serious addiction that affects your work, family and relationships. Some people find it hard to recognise a problem and may hide their gambling activity from friends and family. This can make it difficult to seek help when it is needed.

The laws governing gambling vary from state to state, but Federal regulations will always trump any State laws that contradict them. Many states have legalised some forms of gambling, but others have banned them completely. A common concern is that a person’s gambling is impacting their life in negative ways, including harming personal or financial wellbeing, family and friendships, or work or school performance.

Research indicates that some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity. This could be a result of the way their brain processes reward information, regulates impulses and weighs risk. Other factors include social and cultural contexts where gambling is considered acceptable or expected, which can influence how people define a problem and what it means for them to seek help.

A person engages in gambling when they risk something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under their control or influence, and there is an agreement or understanding that they will receive something of value in return. This excludes bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as the purchase or sale at a future date of securities and commodities, or life, health and accident insurance.