Gambling involves risking something of value – usually money – on an event that is determined by chance or luck. It is a common activity that can be very addictive, and can have serious financial consequences. It can also be a source of euphoria and excitement.
It is estimated that the amount of money legally wagered worldwide each year is $10 trillion (illegal gambling may be greater). Gambling is a huge industry, and encompasses a wide range of activities from playing bingo to buying lottery tickets or betting on football matches. It is most commonly viewed as a recreational activity, but it can be an important part of some people’s livelihoods.
Some individuals are more likely to develop problems with gambling than others. These include people who have low incomes and young people. Research suggests that some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours, and have difficulty controlling their impulses or weighing risks. Other factors may include mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, which can trigger or make worse gambling problems.
Understanding and treating problem gambling requires a clear definition of what is involved. There are a number of different models that can help explain why gambling is harmful, and how to address it. However, it is important to understand that not all models are mutually exclusive. This is particularly the case for pathological gambling, where different conceptualizations have led to a variety of treatment interventions with varying degrees of success.