Gambling involves putting something of value at risk for the chance to win a prize ranging from a small amount of money or goods to a life-changing jackpot. It can include betting on horse races, sporting events, games of chance such as roulette or slots, and even lottery tickets. Gambling can have a positive impact when played responsibly, but it can also cause harm to gamblers and others. It can affect relationships, work performance and health and can have long-term consequences.
In general, people gamble for social, financial or entertainment reasons. They may play for fun with friends or family members, or they may fantasize about winning a huge sum of money and changing their lives. They can also get a “rush” or high from gambling and enjoy the excitement and uncertainty of the outcome.
Some people become addicted to gambling and find it difficult to stop. They might spend more and more time on gambling, lose control over their finances, lie to family or therapists about their involvement, or commit illegal acts to fund their gambling. They may also experience depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, and be at higher risk for suicide.
Studies of the impacts of gambling have been conducted at the individual, interpersonal and community/society levels. Methodological challenges have included determining the portion of impacts that are directly caused by gambling, as well as how to evaluate nonmonetary aspects of impacts, such as emotional stress and relationship difficulties.