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Gambling 101


Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, property or other assets) on an event with an uncertain outcome. It is an activity that has a long history and was widely suppressed by law until the early 20th century. In some places, it is still illegal. The most common forms of gambling include:

Casino games such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack and poker are played in brick-and-mortar and online casinos. Lotteries and sports betting also constitute gambling. The latter involves buying a ticket to win a prize, which can be anything from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot.

If someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to understand what makes gambling addictive. Many people gamble for coping reasons, such as to forget their problems, to make themselves feel more confident or happy or to get a rush or ‘high’. People may also be tempted to gamble because it is socially acceptable, as in the case of a pub quiz or a friendly poker game.

Trying to overcome a gambling addiction is difficult and can be very stressful, but there are ways to help. A support network can be helpful, as well as seeking professional help, such as family therapy or individual counselling. Peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, can also be very effective. Research has shown that physical exercise can also be beneficial in reducing the urge to gamble.