Gambling is an activity where someone risks money or belongings on a game of chance. It can be a social activity or a competitive one, but it is also a serious problem for many people.


Historically, gambling requires three elements to be present: consideration, risk, and a prize. These are essential if the person gambles and wants to win, but they may not always be present in every game.

Why people gamble:

Some people gamble for money and to win big prizes; others gamble for other reasons like mood change or social rewards. Some people gamble to escape from life’s problems and some just enjoy the thrill of it.

The most common forms of gambling worldwide are lotteries and betting on sporting events. They are popular because they offer a low-odds game of chance and often have large jackpots.

General harms:

The first level of severity within the general harms category was identified as those losses that occurred as a result of the loss of surplus or discretionary income or financial resources, such as the capacity to spend on family outings or other activities, cultural and artistic interests or sporting or educational pursuits. These harms could be seen as a choice that was made by a rational and informed person to prioritise the purchase of gambling products over other purchases.

Legacy harms:

The second level of severity identified was that those losses continued to occur even after a person’s engagement with gambling had ended through changes in their own or other people’s behaviour, and had an impact on affected other who were not involved in the choice. This group of harms was seen as a form of ‘continuing harm’ that can affect the health and wellbeing of those that are affected by a person’s gambling.