Gambling is betting something of value, often money, on the outcome of an event whose result may be determined by chance or accident. The bettor hopes to gain by winning, or at least not lose; the gambling industry depends on this bargain, which is one reason why it promotes its wares through social media and wall-to-wall sponsorship of football clubs.

The innate thrill of taking a risk plays an important role in gambling’s attraction, as do the uncertainty and potential reward. Research suggests that some people are predisposed to addictive behaviours because of differences in the way their brain’s reward system responds to rewards and controls impulses. Other factors such as societal and cultural beliefs about gambling can make it harder to recognize when someone has a problem.

People who have a pathological gambling disorder are at higher risk for other mood disorders, including depression, stress, and anxiety. These conditions can also trigger gambling problems and exacerbate them. People who have a recurrent urge to gamble should try to strengthen their support network, avoid exposing themselves to temptation, and stay away from casinos and online betting sites. If possible, they should seek help from a counselor or peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which follows the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. They should also find ways to spend their time and energy in healthy ways – for example, by engaging in sports, reading, or joining a club or book club.