Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves betting on sports, the lottery, casino games or even card games like poker. The activity appeals to people for various reasons, from winning money to socialising with friends. But gambling can also be harmful to an individual’s health and finances. It has been linked to a number of mental health issues including anxiety and depression. It can also cause problems at work, home and in relationships. People can develop gambling addictions for many reasons, including coping with stress or as a way to relieve boredom.

Supporters of gambling argue that casinos promote tourism and generate economic benefits for local communities. Opponents point out that compulsive gamblers often run up debts and ruin their family incomes, savings and careers. The practice has been linked to a range of societal ills, including domestic violence and substance abuse. It can also divert funds from essential services such as education and healthcare.

Several types of therapy can help people with gambling addictions. Psychological therapies, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, can examine the underlying beliefs that encourage someone to gamble, such as the belief that there is a link between luck and skill in non-skills-based gambling games or the tendency to ‘chase’ losses. Some problem gamblers may benefit from financial counselling, which can help them budget their spending and find alternative ways to spend money. Other options include joining a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous.