Gambling is a risky activity where someone places something of value on the outcome of an uncertain event. It can include games of chance and those involving skill, such as horse racing or card playing, where the player’s knowledge may improve their chances of winning. Gambling also includes a wide range of other activities, such as buying lottery tickets and playing the slot machines at casinos. It can have both short- and long-term financial, physical, emotional and social consequences for the gambler, their family and friends.

Gambling can be triggered by mood disorders, such as depression or stress, and it can also make these symptoms worse. It is therefore important to seek help for underlying issues, such as depression or anxiety.

Often, a person’s gambling is fueled by impulsivity, an inability to control impulses or delay gratification. A number of factors contribute to impulsiveness, including sensation- and novelty-seeking, arousal and negative emotions. A relationship between impulsiveness and gambling has been established, although the precise mechanism is unclear.

When a loved one is displaying signs of problematic gambling, it can be difficult to resist their requests for “just this last time.” It’s helpful to learn more about gambling disorder so you can educate yourself and talk to your loved one about the dangers. You can also try to strengthen your support system, set boundaries in managing money, and consider a peer-support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can also call a national helpline or find local resources to assist with problem gambling.