Gambling involves wagering something of value (money, objects or services) on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. People gamble for a variety of reasons, such as the excitement of winning or the possibility of getting rich quickly. Often, they are not aware that their gambling can have serious consequences for themselves and others. These consequences can include family and work problems, health concerns, financial debt and even homelessness.

In recent years, understanding of the adverse consequences of gambling has undergone a profound change. It is now recognized that there are individuals who have a pathological relationship with gambling, which is classified as a mental disorder in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This change in understanding has been driven by changes in research, clinical experience, and therapeutic approaches.

Gambling is a risky activity. Many people lose more than they win. Moreover, the negative consequences of gambling can impact a person’s physical and mental health, family and work life, social life, and performance at school or in the workplace. People who have a problem with gambling may also suffer from other psychological disorders, such as depression and substance use problems. Those with gambling addictions can be helped by therapy, support groups and self-help programs. Inpatient and residential treatment programmes are available for those with severe addictions. The most effective way to treat a gambling disorder is with cognitive behavioral therapy. The program is based on the idea that a person who has a problem with gambling is unable to control their actions, emotions and impulses.