Gambling is an activity where you place a bet or wager with money or goods. It includes card games, slot machines, video-draw poker, two-up, table games, sports betting, horse and greyhound racing, football accumulators and lottery tickets.

People gamble for many reasons, including the adrenaline rush of winning, socialising with friends and family, escaping worries or stress or feeling bored. For some, gambling can become a serious problem. It can ruin relationships, affect health and work or study performance and get people into debt. It can even lead to homelessness or suicide.

Many people who have problems with gambling have co-existing mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. These issues can also trigger harmful gambling behaviours and make it difficult to stop. It is important to seek help if you are struggling with any of these conditions.

One of the main causes of harmful gambling is that it can make you feel less in control of your life. This may be because you are unable to control your emotions or feel overwhelmed by life’s pressures. It can also be because you feel that gambling will give you some sort of control over your life. This can be triggered by seeing stories about others’ wins in the media, or remembering times when you have had a series of lucky strikes.

There are a range of treatments for harmful gambling, including psychotherapy (such as group or psychodynamic therapy) and behavioural therapy. Counselling can help you to understand the causes of your problems and how they affect your relationships with family and friends. It can also help you to set limits and manage your finances.