What is Gambling?

Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, property, etc) on a random event – such as a football match or scratchcard – with the intent to win some other item of value. There are three elements to gambling: consideration, risk, and a prize.

Most people have gambled at some point and most do so without any problems, though some develop a gambling disorder that leads to serious difficulties in their lives. It’s not uncommon for a person with gambling disorder to have other mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, which can both trigger gambling and make it worse.

Some people gamble as a way to relax or entertain themselves, for example by playing card games with friends for small amounts of money or buying lottery tickets as a social activity. Other people are professional gamblers who make their living from betting on sports events and other random events – such as the outcome of a television reality show – for large sums of money.

Gambling can lead to financial difficulty and people with gambling disorders are more likely to have debt problems, so it’s important to seek help if you’re worried about your finances. You can speak to a debt adviser at StepChange for free, confidential support. If you or someone close to you is concerned about their gambling habits, encourage them to seek treatment as soon as possible. This might involve calling a gambling helpline, talking to a family member or therapist, attending a support group for gambling problems like Gamblers Anonymous or seeking help from a healthcare provider or GP.