Gambling involves placing something of value at risk, usually money, on an event whose outcome depends on chance or luck. It can take many forms including casino games (such as slot machines and roulette), lottery tickets, bingo, card games, sports betting, instant scratch-off tickets, races and animal tracks, and more. While some gambling is legal, most is illegal and the vast majority of it occurs at casinos, racetracks, and horse and dog shows.
Some people use gambling to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, relieve boredom or stress, or as a way to socialize. However, there are healthier ways to do these things such as spending time with friends who don’t gamble, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, and joining a support group.
The negative impacts of gambling have been observed at the personal and interpersonal levels as well as the community/society level. The latter refers to external costs and benefits that are not directly incurred by gamblers themselves, but affect others such as family members, neighbors and coworkers. These include financial, labor and health/wellness impacts.
The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have one. This can be hard, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money and have strained or broken relationships because of your addiction. Once you’ve recognized the problem, it’s important to get help and seek treatment. You can find help by contacting a local therapist, visiting a gambling rehab center or taking part in a support program such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous.