The term gambling refers to any activity in which a person risks something of value (money or personal possessions) in the hope of winning. The games can be as simple as rolling the dice or betting on a horse race. Often, the outcomes are determined by chance, though skill can improve the odds. For example, knowing how to play card games or studying horses and jockeys can help a bettor select better bets. Insurance is an example of shifting risk to another party, using actuarial calculations to determine appropriate premiums, much like a casino would set its odds.

Gambling can be a fun and exciting hobby, but it can also cause harm to one’s mental and physical health, relationships with family and friends, work or school performance and even lead to financial ruin and homelessness. Those who gamble without restraint are at risk of developing problem gambling, which is known as “gambling disorder.” This article explores how the brain responds to gambling, how to recognize signs of gambling disorder and where to find help.

The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that there’s a problem. But it can be tough to reach out for help, especially if your addiction has strained or broken relationships and cost you money. Consider strengthening your support network or finding a peer group. Online therapy services, such as BetterHelp, can match you with a licensed therapist who specializes in treating gambling addiction.