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What is Gambling?

What is Gambling?


Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event where instances of strategy are discounted. This includes casino games such as slots and fruit machines, betting on events such as horse or greyhound races, football accumulators and scratchcards and making financial speculation.

Historically, people with problems with gambling have been described as fraudsters or sharpers and rooks. However, understanding of the adverse consequences of problem gambling has undergone a profound change since the 1980s, as reflected in and stimulated by developments in clinical classification and description of pathological gambling in various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM).

People gamble because they believe there is a chance of winning. They may also enjoy the social activity, or the drama and excitement. But most of all they take the risk because they want a prize, whatever that may be. They do not understand that the house always wins.

If someone close to you has a gambling problem, seek help. For example, a doctor can prescribe cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which addresses the thinking processes that contribute to the behaviour, including false beliefs about how much money you will win or that certain rituals will bring you luck. If the person has underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, these need to be addressed as well, as they can trigger gambling, or make it harder to quit.