Gambling involves risking money or other items of value in the hope of winning a prize based on chance. This can include playing card games like poker or blackjack, betting on football or horse races, scratchcards and fruit machines or other casino games such as baccarat or roulette. It can also include speculating on business, insurance or stock market movements or activities. Problem gambling can harm a person’s health, relationships and work performance as well as cause debt and even lead to homelessness. It can also affect family, friends and community members. It can be hard to recognise if someone has a problem with gambling and they may try to hide their behaviour or lie about it to others.

Despite its negative effects, gambling contributes to the economy of many countries and offers social, mental and skill development benefits when it is practised in moderation. These benefits range from stimulating economic growth to fostering cognitive skills. Moreover, gambling provides an excellent source of entertainment for people of all ages and has become a popular way to pass time.

It’s possible to overcome an addiction to gambling by strengthening your support network, avoiding temptation and finding healthier ways to spend your time. You can ask for help, seek out counselling or join a peer-support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can also learn to recognise and deal with triggers that encourage gambling behaviours. If you notice that someone you know is struggling with gambling, make sure they are aware of effective treatments for gambling problems and encourage them to seek help.