What is Gambling?



Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event with the expectation of winning something else of value, such as money or goods. It can be played in brick-and-mortar casinos and online. Popular games include slot machines, roulette, keno, poker, and blackjack. Some games involve skill, such as sports betting or horse racing. Others are chance-based, such as coin flipping or lottery. Some people make a living from gambling, and it is often associated with other illegal activities, such as theft or forgery.

Many people who are addicted to gambling can’t control their behavior and may lie about it. They may even steal money to continue their gambling. Some people have lost their jobs, families, or homes because of gambling. They may also have legal problems or emotional distress.

In addition to counseling and support groups, physical activity has been shown to help people with gambling disorder. The National Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP. Seek support from family and friends. Consider joining a support group for gamblers or attend meetings of Gamblers Anonymous.

Although there are several causes of gambling disorders, it is generally believed that the disorder is related to a person’s genetics and environment. Trauma, poverty, and social inequality, especially in women, can increase the risk of developing a gambling problem. Symptoms can begin in childhood or in adulthood. Treatment of gambling disorders includes psychotherapy, family therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. There are no FDA-approved medications for gambling disorders, but some drugs can be used to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression.