Gambling is an activity in which someone bets something of value, usually money, on a random event, such as a baseball game or a presidential election. The object is to win something of equal or greater value than the amount of money staked.
Gambling can be legal or illegal. In Washington, it is illegal unless authorized by state law. However, courts have ruled that individuals do not need to bet to be convicted of gambling.
Gambling can involve anything from sports betting to fantasy leagues, poker rooms, and even slot machines at casinos. There are legalized forms of gambling in most states, including horse racing tracks and Indian casinos.
Some types of gambling involve skill, such as stock markets. Others are based on chance, like lottery games and bingo. Regardless of the form, the act of betting involves risk, and requires consideration, strategy, and a prize.
The amount of money that is legally wagered by Americans has increased more than 2,800 percent since 1974. The legal gambling market was worth $335 billion in 2009.
As of 2010, there were over 200,000 licensed gambling establishments in the United States. Many of these establishments are located outside of the territorial waters of the state.
Gambling is a common, recreational activity in the United States. But it can also be destructive. It can destroy individuals and families, and can be addictive. Often, the act of gambling becomes more important to a person than they are aware of.