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Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is based at least in part on chance and with the hope of gaining something of value. This definition excludes business transactions based on contracts (for example, the purchase of stocks or securities). People gamble for a variety of reasons, including: the thrill of winning, socialising and escaping from work or problems. However, for some people gambling can cause serious harm. It can damage their physical and mental health, strain or break relationships, make it harder to study or work, lead to debt and even homelessness. It also affects family, friends and colleagues.

Many people have trouble recognizing when their gambling is causing problems. They may deny that they have a problem or hide evidence of their gambling. If someone you know is struggling, it is important to seek help. There are many services that offer support, counselling and advice on how to stop gambling.

In the past, understanding of gambling disorders was more limited than is the case now. It was not considered to be an addiction until recently, when research into the biology of addiction led to a change in clinical opinion and practice. This change is reflected in the new nomenclature for pathological gambling in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM). The 10 criteria that resulted from this process include: damage or disruption, loss of control, and dependence.