Gambling is the act of risking something of value (usually money) on an outcome that depends on chance, such as a football match or a scratchcard. If you predict the outcome correctly, you win money; if not, you lose it. Many people gamble for fun, but some become addicted and cause harm to themselves or others.
The exact legal definition of gambling varies by state, but it typically includes any activity that involves placing a bet for money or other value. This can include putting money on a horse race, betting on the outcome of a lottery draw or game, or playing casino games like poker or slot machines. It also includes wagering with friends or strangers on games of chance, such as card games or dice.
The underlying psychology behind gambling is complex, and the reasons for someone developing an addiction to gambling vary. It can be a way to socialise, relieve boredom or stress, distract from problems or to escape from reality, or it might be used for self-esteem or confidence building. Compulsive gambling can damage relationships as it often results in a person prioritising their habit over loved ones, or even going to extreme lengths to fund their addiction, such as borrowing large sums of money or engaging in illegal activities. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behaviour therapy, can be an effective treatment for people with gambling disorder. Several types of psychotherapy can help people identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors, and it usually takes place with a trained mental health professional such as a psychologist or clinical social worker.