Gambling occurs when you stake something of value on a random event with the possibility of winning a prize. There are many different forms of gambling, from betting on a football team to buying scratchcards. In some cases, you may be able to make a profit from gambling, but in others, the chances of winning are extremely low. People gamble for many reasons, including the excitement of winning money, socialising with friends and escaping from boredom or stress. For some, gambling becomes a way of life, and can even lead to a mental health disorder.

Problem gambling can have significant impacts at a personal, interpersonal and community/societal level. However, research into the impact of gambling is often limited by a focus on negative effects only (cost-benefit analysis). This approach ignores positive impacts.

The underlying causes of problem gambling can be complex and vary from person to person. A number of factors are thought to increase your risk of developing a gambling problem, such as genetics and personality traits. You may also be more likely to develop a gambling problem if you have suffered other mental health problems in the past, such as depression or anxiety.

If you are worried about your gambling habits, there is help available. Talk to your doctor or visit a mental health service. You could try therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy, which can help you to understand why you have a gambling problem. You can also get financial counselling or speak to a support group for advice.