Gambling is an activity where people stake something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance. The stakes may be money or property. It also includes betting on sports events or political elections. It excludes bona fide business transactions such as the purchase or sale of securities, commodities and other assets; contracts of insurance; and lottery tickets, betting pools, horse races, football accumulators and other sports betting.

Symptoms of gambling disorder can appear as early as adolescence and continue throughout life. They can be mild or severe. They often run in families, and they have a high rate of comorbidity with other mood disorders, particularly depression. They can also be triggered or made worse by stress, substance abuse and anxiety. They tend to occur in men more than women, and are often accompanied by family and work problems.

The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to recognize that you need help, especially if you have already lost significant amounts of money and strained relationships. Try to reach out to friends and family for support. Join a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. Try to get physical activity, as it has been found to reduce compulsive gambling behavior.

There is a growing body of research on gambling, including longitudinal studies, although this type of study can be very difficult to mount due to cost and logistical challenges (e.g., maintaining research team continuity over a lengthy period of time). In addition, longitudinal studies are difficult to interpret due to the confounding effects of age and other variables.