Gambling is wagering something of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. It has been a part of virtually every society since prerecorded history, and is commonly incorporated into local customs, traditions, and rites of passage.

Although most individuals engage in gambling as a social activity and the vast majority do so without problems, there is a small group of people who become too seriously involved, to the point that their actions have significant negative personal, family, and economic consequences. This type of gambling behavior is known as problem gambling.

Many factors influence the onset and severity of gambling disorders. These factors may include genetics, environment, medical history and age. However, the primary factor is a person’s level of involvement in gambling activities. People who start gambling early in life are more likely to develop a problem than those who begin later in life. Additionally, women and people with lower socioeconomic status are more at risk for developing a problem than those who do not.

In addition to the traditional casinos and lotteries, modern forms of gambling have become widespread. Individuals have ready access to online games and videos that feature gambling elements, and sports betting is now legal in many countries. While these modern forms of gambling are often marketed to adults, they are also available to children and teenagers. This has made it more difficult to recognize when a gambling activity becomes problematic. Furthermore, many people have cultural beliefs that can interfere with their ability to seek help for a gambling disorder.