Gambling is risking money or possessions on an event that involves some degree of randomness or chance, such as a lottery, a scratchcard, casino games and betting on sports events like football accumulators. It can be a fun pastime but it can become a problem when people are unable to control their gambling or stop it even when they experience problems, such as family conflict, debt and anxiety. It is estimated that the world legally wagers about $10 trillion a year on sports, lotteries and other games of chance.
While there is little evidence of gambling before the second millennium B.C., tiles unearthed in ancient China may have been used to play a rudimentary game of chance. Modern gambling is much more sophisticated, and can take many forms – from social gambling such as playing card games or board games with friends for small amounts of money to professional gamblers who make a living from the skill and strategy they use to win money in the long term.
Some forms of gambling can be addictive and the consequences for a person with a gambling disorder are often severe, affecting their physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study, credit, bank accounts and may lead to homelessness. If you or someone you know is suffering from a gambling addiction, try to talk to them and encourage them to seek help. You can also ask your GP for advice, particularly if you think that their behaviour is caused by underlying psychological issues. You could consider taking over the management of their money and credit, having them sign off on online betting and closing all accounts – this is often the first step towards recovery.