Gambling is the staking of something of value (a bet) on an uncertain event with awareness that there is risk and in the hope of gain. It ranges from lottery tickets and betting of small sums by people who have little, to sophisticated casino gambling for profit and as a pastime. It is often illegal and it can cause serious family and personal problems, including homelessness.

It is estimated that over half of the world’s population takes part in gambling activities. While for many, it can be an enjoyable pastime, for others, gambling is a harmful addiction which can damage their health and wellbeing, relationships, work or study performance, or lead to debt and even bankruptcy. Problem gambling can also cause stress, depression and anxiety, and may contribute to other mental health problems such as substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide.

Several factors can cause gambling to become problematic, including the frequency of exposure, the social and cultural influence, the biological impact on the brain, and the availability of gambling resources. For example, some individuals are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity, and may be more likely to develop gambling problems if they have an underactive brain reward system. It is important to know the warning signs of gambling disorder so that you can recognize them when they arise, and seek help and support.