What Is Gambling?

Gambling is an activity in which people stake something of value on a future contingent event that is not under their control or influence, where the outcome of the wager depends on chance. This activity is distinct from bona fide business transactions, such as the purchase or sale of securities, commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.

A clear definition of gambling enables policy-makers to create responsible gambling measures to prevent harmful gambling, such as addiction and financial ruin. It also assists in developing interventions based on the frequency of exposure, cultural influence, biological and psychological influence, and availability of gambling resources.

For some, gambling can be an enjoyable hobby that provides social interaction and excitement. However, for others, it can lead to negative impacts on their physical and mental health, personal relationships, performance at work or study and their financial security. It can even cause them to end up in serious debt and homelessness.

Some people are predisposed to gambling problems because of genetics, childhood experiences or a history of trauma. Compulsive gambling can develop as early as adolescence or it may occur during middle age. It is more common in men than in women and it tends to run in families.

Many types of therapy can help someone who has a problem with gambling. Counseling can teach someone new skills to manage their emotions and think about their actions; it can also help them consider options and solve problems. Therapy for gambling disorders can include family, group and individual counseling.

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