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What Is Gambling?

Gambling is the wagering of something of value, usually money, on an event whose outcome is determined at least partly by chance. It may also refer to the placing of bets using materials that have a value other than money, such as marbles or collectible game pieces (such as in the games Pogs and Magic: The Gathering).

In general, gambling is an activity that involves risk and reward. While many people enjoy gambling, others may find it addictive and harmful. Gambling addiction can cause problems with relationships, work, health and finances. It may also lead to depression and thoughts of suicide. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please seek help.

Proponents of gambling argue that it attracts tourism and can provide tax revenue for local governments. Opponents point to the social ills of problem gambling, including debt and bankruptcy, divorce, domestic violence, child neglect, and other crimes.

Gambling may be a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or stress. However, there are healthier ways to relieve these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Some people who gamble have a mental health condition that makes them more at risk of developing an addiction. These conditions can include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and other disorders. Seek support and treatment if you are concerned about your or someone else’s gambling behavior. For help with finances, speak to a financial counselor at StepChange.