Gambling is the act of risking money or something else of value on a random event with the intention of winning. It is a popular pastime and is legal in most countries. It can also be beneficial to your mental health because it forces you to think strategically and study patterns and numbers. It can help you develop your logical reasoning skills and learn how to control your emotions. It can be a great way to socialize with friends and relax.

Many people gamble for financial reasons, such as hoping to win the lottery or other prizes, or simply because they enjoy thinking about what they might do with the money if they won. For others, gambling is a form of entertainment and they enjoy it for the thrill of the game and the adrenaline rush of betting on a winning streak. For still others, it is a way to relieve stress and anxiety by focusing on a different activity.

While some studies focus on the negative effects of gambling, others seek to discover its benefits. Longitudinal studies are especially important for this purpose, but they are difficult to conduct for a number of reasons. These include the expense of conducting them over a long period; problems with recruitment, attrition and sample size; and the challenge of accounting for aging and period effects.

The impacts of gambling can be structuralized using a model that defines costs and benefits. These impacts can be classified as personal, interpersonal and societal/community levels (Fig. 1). The personal level includes impacts that affect gamblers themselves and their close associates, such as family members and work colleagues. Interpersonal and societal levels encompass the effects that affect people outside of gamblers, such as the public costs associated with the gambling industry.