Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value (money, assets or property) on a random event with the intent to win a prize. It can take many forms, including card games like poker, baccarat and blackjack, table games such as roulette or craps, betting on horse or greyhound races, football accumulators or elections, and lotteries and instant scratch cards.

A person’s motivation to gamble is influenced by both personal and environmental factors. For example, some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. These traits can be exacerbated by stress, alcohol or drug use and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Others may find gambling a way to escape from problems, but this can often lead to worsening the problems.

When it comes to gambling, a good start is to have a fixed amount of money you’re prepared to lose. It’s also important to set boundaries and stay within them. Ideally, gamble with cash or credit cards that you can afford to lose. This will help prevent you from spending more than you can afford to lose and potentially ruining your financial situation.

While the economic impact of gambling is easily quantified, researchers have struggled with the best methods to measure social impacts. One approach uses health-related quality of life weights to measure costs and benefits at the individual, interpersonal and community/society levels. Another approach uses a cost-benefit analysis, which measures changes in well-being in common units and considers both the costs and benefits of gambling.