What Is Gambling?

Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money or property) on an uncertain event, activity, or game with awareness of risk and in the hope of gaining something of value. It varies from the purchase of lottery tickets by people with very little money, to the sophisticated casino gambling of the wealthy that often involves complex strategy and can lead to huge profits if the player is skillful. It can also involve activities that do not require any monetary stake, such as marbles games or the use of collectible card game pieces in games such as Magic: The Gathering.

The meaning of the word ‘gambling’ has changed considerably over time, and its definition has been influenced by changes in legal regulations. The term is most commonly used to describe pathological gambling, a disorder characterized by a preoccupation with gambling and obtaining money for gambling, impaired control over the behavior, and the persistence of the activity despite adverse consequences.

However, the nomenclature for these problems is not well established, as researchers, psychiatrists, and other treatment clinicians tend to frame issues differently according to their disciplinary training and world view. As a result, it is difficult to compare data and draw conclusions about the incidence and severity of problems associated with gambling. It has been suggested that this lack of consensus may be related to the fact that pathological gambling shares features with other addictive behaviors, including substance dependence and impulsiveness, but is not yet classified as an addiction.