Gambling is any activity in which you risk something of value (usually money) for a chance to win a prize. Whether you’re betting on the horse race or football accumulators, gambling is a common pastime that people enjoy for both fun and profit. It happens everywhere – on the street, at gas stations, in casinos and even on the Internet.

Gambling can help people meet basic needs, such as escaping from stress or finding pleasure in their wins. However, like other addictions, the positive feeling can quickly turn into a source of pain and loss. When a person is addicted to gambling, they lose control of their behaviour, and the harmful effects start to outweigh the entertainment value.

Several things can cause a person to develop a gambling problem, including an underactive brain reward system, impulsivity and poor decision-making skills. Certain medications can also increase the likelihood of developing a gambling disorder. It’s important to recognise the signs and seek help if you suspect your loved one has a gambling problem, as it can damage their health, relationships and work or study performance. It can also lead to serious debt and homelessness.

Many people who gamble are not aware that it can be dangerous and may have difficulty recognising the symptoms of a problem. Often, they will try to minimise their gambling or hide evidence of it from family and friends. In some cases, they may even lie about their activity to cover it up.