Gambling is betting or staking something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, upon the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event not under one’s control or influence. This includes a person’s use of money or other resources, as well as materials deemed to have value (e.g., marbles, collectible trading cards) in a game of chance. It does not include bona fide business transactions, such as buying or selling at a future date of securities or commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty, and life, health, and accident insurance.

Problem gambling is a significant global public health issue that causes severe and debilitating distress to affected individuals, families, and communities. It affects both men and women, but it is more common in men and often starts during adolescence or early adulthood. It can lead to depression, other mental health problems, financial crisis, and even suicide.

People may gamble for fun or to distract themselves from a difficult situation, but it can become harmful and lead to debt and other serious consequences. Many gambling disorders are associated with a combination of factors, including family history, trauma, and social inequality. It can also be triggered by a stressful event or a period of financial difficulty, such as a job loss or the death of a loved one.

While a person can have a gambling disorder alone, most need help. Several types of therapy can be used to treat gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and group therapy. Some people may also benefit from medication. Some people find that a change in their routine, such as taking up a new sport or hobby, can help them deal with urges to gamble.

If you are caring for someone with a gambling problem, it is important to support them and set boundaries. Be sure to talk to them about how the addiction is affecting you and their family, and seek out support for yourself, such as through a therapist or a self-help group for families like Gam-Anon. You can also look into the possibility of taking over management of your loved one’s finances to prevent them from spending money they don’t have. You could also consider asking them to attend a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous, a peer-support program that is based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. They offer a 12-step recovery program and the help of a sponsor, who is a former gambler who has successfully recovered from their gambling disorder. The organization also has an online community for support.