What Is Gambling?


Gambling involves placing something of value, typically money, on a future contingent event determined at least in part by chance, and where instances of skill are discounted. This includes all forms of betting on events, including slot machines and casino games, purchasing lottery or scratch-off tickets, playing bingo, and even making bets on sports. However, it does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts (such as purchases or sales at a future date of securities or commodities) and life, health and accident insurance.

It is not uncommon for people to experience a range of difficulties with gambling, from those who are prone to addiction, to those who would be classified as having pathological gambling in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Treatment is available for anyone experiencing problems related to gambling, whether they are at risk for developing an issue or have already been diagnosed with a disorder.

The biggest step to overcoming a gambling problem is acknowledging that there is one. This can be difficult, particularly if the problem has cost you a significant amount of money or has strained or damaged relationships. It is also important to seek help for any underlying mood disorders, as they can trigger gambling and make it difficult to stop.

It may be helpful to find a therapist who has experience treating gambling disorder. Several therapies are effective, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can teach people how to recognize and confront irrational beliefs that trigger or perpetuate their gambling behavior.