Gambling involves putting something of value on an uncertain event, whether it’s the roll of a dice, the spin of a roulette wheel, or the outcome of a horse race. It’s illegal in many countries, and people who gamble often have a negative reputation. But it can be harmless if done in moderation, as long as the gambler has full awareness of the risk involved.

Gamble too much and your brain chemistry changes, leading to a downward spiral that can have serious consequences. It’s important to seek help and support. There are also other ways to cope with unpleasant feelings and unwind, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques.

The risk of gambling can be very high, and you may be tempted to try to make back the money lost or overcome your loss by increasing your bets. This is because humans want to feel in control – it’s within our nature – and the unpredictable nature of gambling can make you believe that there are things you can do to increase your chances of winning, like throwing the dice a certain way or wearing a lucky item of clothing.

Gambling is not always addictive, but there are many signs that can indicate a problem. Some people are more prone to gambling than others, and there are genetic predispositions that can lead to a problem. In 2013, pathological gambling was officially recognised as an addiction, along with substance abuse, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association.