Gambling involves betting something of value on an uncertain event with the primary intention of winning additional money or material goods. It can include activities such as lotteries, casino games, sports betting, and online games. It may also include social gambling, where participants play card or board games for a small amount of money or participate in a sports betting pool with friends. In some cases, people with gambling disorder will use illegal methods to avoid laws that regulate or restrict their activity (i.e., “chasing”).
A person with a gambling disorder often feels compelled to gamble regardless of whether they have won or lost. They feel as if they have to win in order to avoid feeling depressed or anxious. They will try to conceal their gambling behavior from family members and therapists. They may even lie to their employer in an effort to conceal the extent of their problem. In some cases, a person with a gambling disorder has jeopardized or lost a job, education, or relationship as a result of their addiction.
While there are many reasons that people begin to gamble, compulsive gambling is more common in younger adults and in men than in women. It is also possible that people are more likely to develop a gambling disorder if they have a family member or friend who has a problem. Many people with gambling disorders can stop gambling on their own, and there are several effective treatments available. However, only one in ten people with gambling disorders seek treatment.