Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value (such as money or possessions) on an event that is largely determined by chance. It can include activities such as lotteries, sports betting and using pokies. The earliest evidence of gambling comes from tiles found in ancient China that are thought to be a form of lottery-type game.
Gambling can cause problems for a number of reasons. It can interfere with work, relationships and health. It can also lead to debt and financial crisis. If you’re worried about your gambling, it’s important to seek help and advice.
While most adults and adolescents gamble, a small percentage develop a problem with gambling that is considered a mental disorder. These people experience significant distress or impairment as a result of their gambling behaviour.
Our understanding of gambling problems has changed significantly over time. Previously, it was viewed as recreational interest or bad luck, but now it is considered to be a sign of mental illness. This shift has been influenced by research findings about the brain, and by changes in our understanding of addiction.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risks of harmful gambling. The first is to set a budget for the money you’re going to spend on gambling, and stick to it. Don’t use credit or loans to gamble and don’t chase your losses. It’s also a good idea to balance your gambling with other enjoyable activities and to never gamble when you’re feeling down or upset.