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Whether you play a casino game, buy a lottery ticket, bet on the football or horse races or use the pokies (Australian poker machines), gambling involves risking something of value for the chance to win a prize. Gambling can happen in places like casinos and racetracks, but it can also be done at gas stations, churches, sporting events, and online.

Some people gamble as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings or boredom, such as stress or loneliness. If this is a problem for you, learn healthier ways to cope with these feelings. Try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Gambling is considered an addiction if it causes problems in your life and interferes with your ability to function normally. There are several signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction, including lying to your family or employer about how much you gamble, hiding money or credit cards, stealing to fund gambling, and chasing losses.

Research on gambling has undergone a significant shift in understanding. Historically, people who experienced adverse consequences from excessive gambling were viewed as gamblers with problems; today, they are regarded as having psychological disorders. This change is reflected in, or perhaps stimulated by, the evolution of the clinical description and classification of pathological gambling in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (called DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Research that takes a long-term approach, called longitudinal design, can be especially helpful in identifying factors that moderate and exacerbate gambling participation and thus help to explain its adverse consequences.