Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance and with the hope of winning a prize. In addition to traditional casino and sports betting, many people place bets on the lottery or buy scratchcards. However, there are ways to gamble responsibly and limit the harm that can be caused. If you have problems with gambling, consider contacting the Responsible Gambling Council for help and support.

While gambling can be a fun activity for most individuals, it can also lead to significant harm and addiction for some. In some cases, the gambling behaviour can be so serious that it may be classified as a mental health problem, known as gambling disorder. People who have a gambling disorder are at higher risk of developing other types of substance use disorders.

Research is needed to better understand the causes of gambling disorder and develop effective treatment options. Some of the barriers to longitudinal research in gambling include the need for large sums of money to fund a long-term study; the risk that repeated testing will impact behaviour; and the difficulty of separating out aging effects and period effects (e.g., whether someone’s interest in gambling is due to being at a particular age or the opening of a new casino).

There are a number of costs associated with gambling that are not always recognized by consumers. These include personal and interpersonal levels, which are invisible and include the negative effects of problem gambling on family members; financial losses; and self-destructive behaviour such as lying to family members, therapists and others to conceal involvement in gambling. There are also society/community level external costs, which are monetary and include the general cost of gambling, costs related to problem gambling and the long-term costs.