Gambling is the act of placing a bet on an event, whether it be a horse race, a casino game or a sporting event. It is a popular activity worldwide and can provide an entertaining diversion. However, it can be a problem for some people when they overindulge and can harm their physical or mental health, relationships, work or studies, or even lead to serious debt and homelessness.

Some governments prohibit gambling, while others endorse it and regulate it. In general, the majority of adults who gamble can control their gambling habits and do so responsibly. Approximately 20 million U.S. adults (1%) meet the criteria for a severe gambling disorder (DSG), and many more suffer from milder forms of the condition.

Social gambling can include playing card games and board games for small amounts of money, placing bets on a sports team or event, and buying lottery tickets. It can also be done using materials that have a value, such as marbles or collectible game pieces (such as Magic: The Gathering and Pogs).

Problem gambling can cause many problems in one’s life, including financial, family, employment and social issues. The underlying cause can be complicated, but it usually involves more than just the person’s gambling behaviour. It is important to talk to a trusted friend or professional about these issues and seek help if needed. For individuals experiencing serious gambling disorders, inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs may be necessary.