Gambling is an activity in which players stake money, goods, or services on uncertain outcomes. It is often associated with risk, but may also provide a sense of excitement and enjoyment. Gambling is also an important source of revenue for some governments and can help support social services, education, and health research.
Some people are especially vulnerable to developing gambling disorders. These include those with low incomes, who may have more to gain with a large win, young people and men (who are more likely than women to develop a gambling disorder), and individuals with depression or other mental illnesses. In addition, some cultures value gambling activities and may not recognize a problem in themselves or in others.
People who have a gambling addiction may feel shame, stress, guilt or anxiety about their behavior. They may have problems with relationships and work. They may “chase their losses” (try to recover lost money) or engage in other dishonest or illegal behaviors. They may end up spending more time gambling or attempting to win back their losses than they do on other activities, such as working or attending school. They can also end up in financial trouble and in debt.
A person who is concerned about his or her gambling habits should discuss the issue with a clinical professional. A qualified clinician can conduct a comprehensive assessment and determine whether gambling is causing harm. This assessment includes a complete review of a person’s family history, legal situation, and finances.