Gambling involves the wagering of something of value on an uncertain event with the hope of winning a prize. It can range from the purchase of lottery tickets by people with little money to sophisticated casino gambling involving high stakes and skill. It is often considered to be a vice or a source of addiction, but research has shown that it can also have positive impacts.

Several studies have identified positive economic impacts of gambling, including increased leisure time and entertainment spending among recreational gamblers. Other benefits include the promotion of tourism, employment in the gaming industry, and contributions to local businesses (e.g., restaurants). Furthermore, research has found that gambling can help lower social inequalities and boost self-concept in people of low socioeconomic status.

Negative effects of gambling include the financial costs and stress of problem gambling, which have been observed at the personal level (individual) and interpersonal (friends/family) levels. These costs are largely invisible and can be masked by the enjoyment of gambling. They can also turn into externalities at the community/society level, such as problems in family life and increased debt or even bankruptcy and homelessness.

Gambling is associated with a number of psychological factors, such as an overactive reward system, risk-taking behaviours, poor decision-making, and impulsivity. Moreover, people with certain genetic predispositions are more susceptible to developing a gambling disorder. Research suggests that some people are also more prone to gambling problems because of their cultural background. In particular, in some cultures, gambling is a central pastime, and it can be difficult to recognize that one has a gambling problem.