Gambling is a form of entertainment where people risk something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. It ranges from betting on a football team to win a match, to purchasing a scratchcard for a chance to win a prize. It can be done legally or illegally, and can involve any type of bet, from the purchase of a lottery ticket to the gambling activities of wealthy individuals in casinos. The act of gambling can have negative and positive effects on an individual and society as a whole. It can lead to addiction and financial loss, but it can also generate significant revenue for governments and benefit local communities.

When gambling becomes problematic, it is no longer an escape or a way to profit – it becomes a way to avoid reality and to keep on losing. It changes the reward pathways in the brain, producing dopamine that keeps us feeling rewarded as we continue to lose money and attempt to get our previous losses back, creating an addictive cycle. The harms of problem gambling are not always visible or recognised, as they tend to be hidden from those who engage in this behaviour by hiding their habits and lying about how much they gamble.

The impacts of gambling can be structuralized using a model that categorizes them into negative and positive; costs and benefits. These can be observed at the personal, interpersonal and societal/ community levels. Personal and interpersonal level impacts induce effects on a personal level to the gamblers themselves, while external impacts influence the interpersonal and societal/ community levels and concern other people.