What Is Gambling?


Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result may be determined by chance or accident. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the laws of contract, such as contracts for the purchase at a future date of securities or commodities and agreements to indemnify against loss caused by the happening of chance and the occurrence of certain events (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

Many people gamble as a way to pass time or for entertainment. When gambling becomes problematic, however, it can lead to severe financial and social problems. Problem gambling is often associated with a number of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, and can lead to substance abuse.

Addiction to gambling can also cause significant damage to family relationships and personal relationships, and may even result in a bankruptcy filing. Individuals with a history of compulsive gambling often exhibit the following symptoms:

1. Spends more than they can afford to lose. 2. Continues to gamble despite adverse consequences. 3. Secretly lies to others about their behavior or attempts to conceal it. 4. Uses illegal methods to fund their gambling activity, including forgery, theft and embezzlement. 5. Frequently tries to recover losses by gambling more money or things of value. 6. Frequently jeopardizes his or her work, school or personal life in order to gamble.

The good news is that there are treatment options available for those with a gambling addiction. Behavioral therapy can help to address the underlying causes of the problem, and cognitive-behavioral techniques can teach individuals new ways of thinking and behaving that reduce the urge to gamble. In some cases, medication may be necessary to relieve some of the symptoms. Inpatient and residential treatment programs are available for those with more severe gambling disorders. These programs provide round-the-clock care and support to help individuals stop gambling and start living a healthy, productive life again. Seek out support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous, and find a sponsor, a former gambler who has successfully overcome his or her gambling addiction. This is a very important step in the recovery process. Strengthen your support network by making new friends and engaging in activities that do not involve gambling, such as joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class or volunteering for a charity.