Gambling is the betting or risking of something of value on an outcome of a game, contest or uncertain event with awareness that there is a real possibility of losing it. It includes card games like poker, blackjack or bridge played for fun with friends in a private setting; dice and guessing games among primitive peoples; horse racing, football accumulators and lottery tickets; casino gambling and other commercial gaming. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as a purchase or sale of goods or services at a future date; insurance or other guaranty agreements and life, health and accident insurance.

It is a common problem that can affect anyone, and it can lead to serious financial difficulties, family breakdown, poor performance at work or study and even homelessness. It can also damage relationships with friends and family, cause distress and anxiety, depression or other mental illness. It may also be linked to addiction to drugs or alcohol.

It is very difficult to stop gambling once you become addicted, but there are ways to help, and many organisations offer advice, support and treatment for people affected by problem gambling. One way is to strengthen your support network by spending time with friends who do not gamble, and by joining a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous which follows a 12-step programme based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Another option is to take steps to change your environment, for example by avoiding casinos and betting shops or making sure you only play with money you can afford to lose.