Gambling is putting something of value, usually money, at risk on events or activities that have an element of chance and a prize. Examples include lottery tickets, cards, casino games, horse racing, slot machines, instant scratchcards and sports betting. Skill can be involved, but is not central to the concept of gambling (Oxford English Dictionary).
When someone gambles, they make a bet based on the belief that they will win a prize that is greater than the amount of money they put at risk. In the past, the word “gambling” was used to describe fraudulent gamesters and sharpers who took unfair advantage of others, but modern understanding has evolved so that it is now recognized as an activity that involves a choice to place value on an event with uncertain results. It may be a recreational pastime, but can also be an addictive behavior.
A person with a gambling problem experiences a series of negative consequences, such as problems with work or school, family and friends, and finances. They may lie to family members, therapists, or other people in order to hide the extent of their involvement with gambling; have secret accounts, rely on credit cards, borrow money from relatives or others, or commit crimes such as forgery, theft and embezzlement to fund their habit. The individual may also try to recover from a gambling problem by attending a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.
There are several factors that increase the likelihood of a person developing a gambling addiction, including: Age – Compulsive gambling is more common in young and middle-aged people. Gender – Men are more likely to develop a gambling addiction than women. Family and friends – If your friends or family have a gambling problem, you are more likely to develop one as well.
Personality traits and coexisting mental health conditions are also important predictors of a person’s risk for gambling addiction. For example, some individuals are predisposed to a gambling addiction because they have a personality type that makes them seek rewards. They are also more likely to become addicted to gambling if they have mood disorders such as depression. These mood disorders may either precede or follow the onset of a gambling disorder. Other predictors of a gambling disorder are impulsivity, a history of childhood abuse or neglect, and a family history of addiction.