The act of wagering something of value, usually money, on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. It involves the conscious risk of loss and the hope of gain, and is distinguished from other forms of recreation that do not involve a financial stake.
Harmful gambling is more common among people with mental health problems and can also affect those with substance abuse issues. There are also links between gambling and suicide, so if you are concerned about your mental health or those of someone close to you, speak to a counsellor immediately.
A large amount of money is legally wagered every year on sports, the lottery, horse races and other gambling events. The amounts vary, but it is estimated that the total is about $10 trillion. Gambling is a popular activity around the world, and people of all ages can be affected by it.
The main problem with gambling is that it can lead to addiction, just as drugs or alcohol can. There is an increasing awareness of the problem and of how to help, with new treatment centres being set up all the time.
The first step to overcoming the habit is to realise you have one. It takes strength and courage to admit this, especially if you have lost a lot of money or suffered damaged relationships because of your gambling habits. But many others have overcome their gambling addiction and rebuilt their lives, so it is possible.