What Is Gambling?

Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value (typically money) on an event with a high degree of chance, with the potential to win a prize. Some examples include lottery tickets, cards, bingo, slots and machines, races, animal tracks, sporting events, dice, roulett and other games of chance.

The term gambling can also refer to other activities that involve wagering materials or objects of a certain value, but do not involve a financial stake. For example, collectors might place wagers on items like marbles, pogs and Magic: The Gathering game pieces.

While many people gamble responsibly, others have serious problems. Compulsive gambling, sometimes referred to as gambling disorder, is defined by an uncontrollable urge to gamble and a lack of control over the behavior. Gambling disorder often causes psychological, physical and social damage to the person with the problem.

Symptoms of gambling disorders may include preoccupation with gambling; lying to family members or therapists to conceal the extent of the involvement; jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity, or other possession in order to gamble; and chasing losses by attempting to recover lost money through additional gambling. While there are no FDA-approved medications for pathological gambling, a variety of behavioral therapies have been shown to be effective in treating the disorder. In addition, longitudinal studies are the best way to assess the effects of gambling on individuals and communities. However, these studies are very difficult to conduct due to funding and logistical challenges.