Gambling is an activity where you place something of value (typically money) on a game with an element of chance and the potential to win a prize. People gamble in a variety of ways, from lottery tickets and cards to dice, slot machines, bingo, horse racing, sports events and even online. Gambling is a common recreational activity and an international commercial enterprise. It is often portrayed in glamorous settings such as casinos, racetracks and sports arenas but can also take place at gas stations, churches, social events and on the Internet.
Compulsive gambling is a serious mental illness that affects approximately 0.4-1.6% of Americans. The disorder is more common in males than in females, and it often develops in adolescence or young adulthood. It is more likely to be a chronic problem in those who start gambling before the age of 25. It is more prevalent in those who engage in strategic, face-to-face gambling such as poker or blackjack and less so in nonstrategic gambling activities such as slots or bingo.
If you have a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. A number of different treatments are available. Psychological therapy may help address specific issues such as faulty thinking and beliefs about luck and skill in nonskill-based games, and financial counselling can help you create a plan for financial recovery. In some cases, residential or inpatient treatment programs may be necessary. Longitudinal studies are especially useful for identifying factors that moderate and exacerbate gambling participation.