Gambling is any activity where you stake something of value (like money or possessions) for a chance at winning a prize. People gamble in many ways, from playing games of chance at casinos to betting on football matches or scratchcards. It’s estimated that gambling occurs worldwide to an annual value of $10 trillion. Whether you play in person, on the internet or in your own home, gambling can be addictive and have serious consequences.

A good understanding of gambling can help you to recognise if your gambling is problematic and take steps to change it. It can also help you to protect your finances, so you don’t get caught out by a relapse.

Problem gambling can affect a range of areas in your life including relationships, work and your mental health. If you have an underlying mood disorder such as depression or anxiety you may be at greater risk of compulsive gambling. Seek professional help to address these issues if necessary.

A key to overcoming gambling problems is finding other, healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings and coping with boredom. Getting exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques are all healthy alternatives. It’s also important to seek help if you have financial difficulties, as debt can fuel gambling habits. Speak to a debt advisor at StepChange for free, confidential advice.