Gambling is the act of risking money or something of value on an event involving chance. It can include activities such as the lottery, scratchcards, fruit machines and betting with friends. There is no one form of gambling that is more addictive than another, and any type can lead to problems if it becomes excessive.

It is important to understand why people gamble, so that you can better help them if they are having problems. Some people gamble to relieve boredom or loneliness, and it is also possible that they are gambling for financial reasons. Others may gamble for a rush or high, or because it makes them feel confident. Alternatively, some people turn to gambling as a way of soothing unpleasant feelings or stress, such as after a bad day at work or following an argument with their partner.

People who have a problem with gambling tend to experience repeated losses, and are often unable to stop. They may try to win back their losses, or place more and more bets in a bid to achieve a bigger winning streak. This cycle can become dangerous, and a person may need to seek treatment for their gambling addiction.

The understanding of gambling disorders has changed significantly, and the diagnosis of pathological gambling was moved from a ‘behavioural’ to a ‘psychological’ disorder in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A variety of treatments are effective for treating gambling disorders.