Gambling is when you risk something of value, such as money, on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. Some individuals enjoy gambling for its entertainment value and the dream of winning big, but it can also cause harm to a person’s health and well being, relationships with family and friends, work performance and social life, lead them into serious debt and even homelessness. People who develop problems with gambling can be of any age or gender, from every race and religion, from rural or urban areas, and are from all socioeconomic backgrounds. It can even impact children and families.

In many cases, problem gambling begins with the desire to win big and ends with the realization that it’s impossible. When this happens, a person’s psychological and cognitive processes become out of balance and they may begin to use risky behaviors as a way of trying to gain control over their situation. This can include trying to increase their chances of winning by throwing dice in a certain manner, sitting in a specific spot or wearing a lucky shirt.

The causes and effects of gambling can be structuralized using a model that divides impacts into positive and negative; into benefits and costs. Costs can be categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health/well-being. These classes can manifest on personal, interpersonal or community/societal levels and may affect more than just a gambler. Some impacts can be long-term and create a change in the course of an individual’s life or pass from generation to generation.