Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, with conscious risk and hope of gain, on an event that has uncertain outcome. It can be done with money or things of value, such as marbles or collectible game pieces (like pogs or Magic: The Gathering cards). It is a widespread and lucrative commercial activity.
There are many reasons why people gamble. Some people do it for socialising, some to improve their skills and others for entertainment. Studies have shown that gambling can have positive benefits, but only in moderation. For example, it can improve mental development, give a rush or high and make people happier. However, gambling is not considered to be healthy when it becomes addictive.
Adverse consequences of gambling can include the loss of money or property, problems with family and friends, and trouble at school or work. Problem gambling can affect all ages but is most common during adolescence. It is a growing concern as online and mobile betting grows.
The term pathological gambling (PG) is used to describe a pattern of persistent, recurrent and maladaptive patterns of behavior. Approximately 0.4-1.6% of adults meet diagnostic criteria for PG. It often starts in adolescence or young adulthood and develops into a serious disorder several years later. Historically, treatments for PG have been ineffective due to inconsistent conceptualizations of the disorder. In recent years, new integrated approaches are emerging that may be more effective. These include self-management strategies (such as keeping a record of gambling behaviors and identifying triggers) and psychotherapy.