Gambling is any activity in which a person stakes something of value (often money) on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. This includes all games of chance and skill, such as keno, bingo and casino table games, as well as betting on horse and greyhound races, football accumulators and elections. However, it excludes bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts and contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life insurance policies and other forms of personal risk coverage.

Gambling causes external impacts that affect more than just the gambler, including family members and others in their community/society. These impacts include financial, labor and health and well-being consequences. These consequences are often long-term and can span generations. They can also cause substantial social and economic problems for lower-income families, leading to increased demand on social services. These challenges make it important to examine gambling impacts on three levels: individual, interpersonal and community/society.

Gambling can be problematic when it is used to try to make up for losses, or when people start believing that they will win back their recent losses, which is why many gamblers continue to invest time and money in the hope of reversing their past losses. This type of behavior can lead to a vicious cycle that leads to problem gambling. Genetic predispositions, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity and the use of gambling as escape coping are all contributing factors that may lead to gambling addiction.