Gambling is the act of putting something at risk in order to gain a prize, often money. It is also known as betting, wagering and playing games of chance. Some examples include sports betting, horse racing and participating in a lottery (where people pay to have a chance of winning something). A person who is gambling is called a gambler.
A problem with gambling can have serious negative consequences on a person’s life, family, and job. It can also cause emotional distress, and erode relationships. It can even lead to financial disaster, including bankruptcy and criminal activity, such as stealing. Whether it is betting on sports, scratch cards, roulette or slot machines in a casino or online, gambling can be harmful.
While many people enjoy gambling for fun and recreation, some develop a serious addiction that can have devastating effects on their lives. A person with a gambling problem may find that it becomes a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings, relieve boredom, or socialize. It is important to find healthier ways to cope with these feelings.
Some scholars believe that a continuum of gambling disorder exists, with individuals moving from one end to the other, developing more severe problems over time. However, most clinicians and the self-help treatment community do not support this view. They believe that pathological gambling is a discrete illness with specific features, including impaired judgment and cognitive distortions. This is reflected in the placement of gambling disorder in the DSM-5, within the new category on behavioral addictions.