Gambling is an activity in which something of value (typically money) is placed at risk on an event with an element of chance. It includes lotteries, horse races, video games, card games, dice, and slot machines. People gamble for fun or to win a prize, but some become addicted.

When gambling becomes an addiction, it negatively affects a person’s family life and work or education performance. People with this condition may hide their involvement or lie to others, committing illegal acts to fund their gambling habits and to try to make up for losses (known as “chasing”). They often experience feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety and depression. Some have difficulty sleeping and feel restless or bored when not gambling. They may develop an eating disorder or rely on medication to relieve symptoms.

The ancient Greeks believed that gambling was invented by the gods and included it in their mythology. Aphrodite is known to have gambled on knucklebones, or astragals, with the god Pan; these bones are thought to be the origin of dice and dominoes. In modern times, gambling has expanded rapidly due to a number of social and economic changes. These include a growing emphasis on profits, the rise of mass media, and technical advances in gaming devices.

Treatment for gambling disorders can involve psychotherapy or group therapy and a variety of medications. People with this disorder should get help as soon as possible to avoid serious financial, family and career problems. They should limit their time at casinos and other places where gambling is offered, remove credit cards from their possession, have someone else manage their finances, and close online betting accounts. They should also learn healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions and boredom, such as spending time with friends who do not gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.