What is Gambling?

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event, such as a lottery or horse race, with the intention of winning something else of value. It does not include bona fide business transactions, such as the purchase of goods or services at a future date for resale, or contracts of indemnity or guaranty. It also does not include betting on sports events or political contests, as well as activities such as playing card games and some board games in which skill can improve the chances of winning.

Problem gambling can have long-term financial, psychological, emotional and social consequences for the gambler and his or her family, friends and workplace. It can lead to depression, drug or alcohol abuse, poor work performance, family problems, legal troubles and even suicide.

In the past, people who experienced problems related to gambling were viewed as gamblers with bad habits. Now, it’s widely understood that they have a mental health problem. The change reflects a new understanding of the biology underlying addiction. Scientists now know that some people’s brains respond to gambling the way they do to drugs or alcohol. Just like a person develops tolerance to a drug, those with unhealthy gambling habits often need more and more gambling to get the same feeling of pleasure.

People with unhealthy gambling habits can be found in all areas of the community. They may be rich or poor, young or old, male or female, and they come from all races, religions and education levels. They are likely to live in small towns or big cities. They may be single, married or divorced and they are equally likely to be employed or unemployed. They can be found in all social classes, from the CEOs of major corporations to the waitresses in their local casinos and even their children’s softball teams.

Gambling is a way for people to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, relieve boredom or loneliness, and even to escape from life’s stresses and problems. But there are better ways to deal with these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. In addition, people who want to stop gambling can seek professional help by attending support groups or counselling.

If you’re concerned that someone in your family is gambling too much, talk with them about it. Encourage them to get professional help. And if you’re a family member, be sure to set boundaries about money management and credit. It’s also important to learn how to cope with cravings and impulses by finding healthy ways to manage stress and boredom, such as exercising, socializing with friends who don’t gamble, and taking up a hobby. If you’re in a casino, always tip your dealer, either by handing them cash or by placing chips on the table and clearly saying, “This is for you.” And never be afraid to walk out of a bar or casino if you feel uncomfortable being around gambling.