Gambling is an activity in which an individual stakes something of value (money or possessions) on the outcome of a contest of chance or future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain result. It excludes bona fide business transactions valid under law, such as purchases at a future date of securities or commodities, contracts of insurance or guaranty, and life, health, or accident insurance. It also excludes skill-based activities that are not dependent on luck, such as chess or card games with other people in which knowledge of playing strategies may improve the odds of winning.

Problem gambling is an impulse control disorder that causes someone to gamble excessively, often with negative consequences. It is an addiction that can cause emotional and financial disaster. Whether it is a small wager or an all-out binge, problem gambling affects people from all walks of life and can strain relationships. It can even drive people to steal money to finance their gambling habits, or worse.

People who have problems with gambling are often prone to other addictions, including alcohol and drugs. This is because gambling activates the brain’s reward system in much the same way as other addictive substances do. However, not everyone who has a gambling problem goes on to develop other addictions. In fact, many individuals who have a gambling problem never experience any other addictions because they don’t find anything else that gives them the same feeling as gambling does.