Gambling is any activity in which you risk something of value for the chance to win a prize. It includes both activities that depend solely on luck (such as betting on a team to win a football match) and those where skill can affect the outcome, such as poker or horse racing. It can also include games with materials that have a value, such as marbles or collectable game pieces (pogs and Magic: The Gathering).
You can gamble with money, goods, services or even your time. People do so for many reasons. Some enjoy the excitement of winning money, and others use gambling to socialise with friends or relieve boredom or stress. But for some, the habit can spiral out of control and cause serious problems in their lives, including debt and mental health issues.
If you have a problem with gambling, it’s important to get help. Treatment options can include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can teach you to challenge irrational beliefs, such as the idea that a sequence of losses makes it more likely you will lose again or that certain rituals will bring you luck. CBT can also address the underlying mood issues that can cause or make worse gambling problems, such as depression, anxiety and stress.
It’s also important to avoid using gambling as a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions or relieve boredom. There are healthier ways to do this, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and trying relaxation techniques.