What Is Gambling?

Gambling involves the risking of something of value upon an event not under one’s control or influence, for a prize that may be either intrinsically valuable or exchangeable for money or other things of value. Examples of gambling include skill-based games, dice, card games, sports betting and horse racing, among others. However, many people don’t consider these activities to be gambling because they do not involve an established purchase price, the money paid to participate in the activity is not an increment to an established purchase price, and the outcome of a contest or game does not depend on an element of skill.

Problem gambling can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including their health and mental well-being, relationships, performance at work or school, income and debt. People with gambling problems are also more likely to experience depression, substance abuse and other mood disorders. These mood disorders can trigger and make worse gambling problems, and can also coexist with them.

Several factors can lead to gambling addiction, including the expectation of an early big win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity and the use of escape coping. Some people are more susceptible to developing gambling problems, such as young people and men. Gambling addiction hijacks the brain’s reward pathway through random rewards, and replaces entertainment with profit or escape. When this happens, gambling is no longer enjoyable and the harms outweigh the benefits. This is why it is so important to seek help if you think you might have a problem.