Gambling is an activity where you put something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. It can include buying a lottery ticket, placing a bet on a sport event or playing the pokies. It’s important to gamble responsibly and understand the risks. People gamble for many reasons including to socialise, escape from stress and worries or as a way to win money. It can also help people develop skills such as concentrating and improving their hand-eye coordination. Gambling can be very addictive and people with gambling problems may hide their addiction from friends and family, lie about how much they gamble or try to borrow money to fund their gambling activities.

Gambling can be very dangerous and it’s important to recognise the signs of a problem. If you have trouble separating your gambling from other activities or you start spending more than you can afford, you should seek treatment. Therapy can help you deal with the underlying issues contributing to your gambling addiction, such as a mental health condition like depression or anxiety or financial, work and relationship problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can teach you how to recognise and respond to unhealthy gambling urges, and how to find healthier ways to relieve boredom or stress.

Longitudinal studies of gambling’s effects are limited, but more sophisticated and theory-based interventions are becoming available. In particular, cognitive-behavioral therapies can help you change unhealthy gambling behaviors and beliefs and solve the financial, work, and relationship problems that come with them.