The act of betting something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. It includes games of chance such as bingo, lottery and scratchcards, and activities involving consideration, risk and a prize, such as horse racing, casino games and football accumulators. It excludes activities based on contracts, such as purchasing stocks or insurance.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including for the adrenaline rush, to socialise or to escape worries and boredom. However, it can become dangerous when a person starts losing control and is spending more money than they can afford to lose. For some people, it can have a negative impact on their physical and mental health, relationships, work or study performance and can even lead to homelessness.
If you’re concerned about someone you know, help them to seek support and treatment. Counselling can help them to understand their gambling problem and think about how it affects their family. It may also include techniques to cope with the urge to gamble. For example, they might be encouraged to get rid of their credit cards, set up automatic payments with their bank or close their online betting accounts.
Gambling can lead to depression and anxiety. In some cases, a person might be diagnosed with a co-occurring mental illness and prescribed medication. In other cases, a person might be offered support groups and self-help tips. Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs are available for those who cannot manage their gambling habits without round-the-clock support.