What is Gambling?

Gambling is an activity where someone stakes something of value (money or other possessions) upon the outcome of a future contingent event not under their control or influence. It includes playing card games such as poker, blackjack, bridge or bingo; casino games such as slot machines, fruit machines and two-up; and placing bets on horse and greyhound races, football accumulators and other sporting events. It does not include bona fide business transactions that are valid under the law, such as purchasing goods or services at a future date; contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.

People who gamble are often misguided by a desire to make up for past losses or alleviate a feeling of disappointment, frustration or despair. They may also overestimate their chances of winning. This can be because they remember stories they have heard about others who have won the lottery, or because they have a pattern of recent wins. People are also more sensitive to loss than they are to gain of equal size.

Although gambling is not a cause of mental illness, research shows that it can cause problems for some individuals, especially if they do not have the resources or support systems to manage their addiction. It can harm relationships and cause distress in families, it can affect work, study or social life and lead to financial difficulties and debt. It can also impact on mental health, and is associated with suicide.