Gambling involves placing something of value (money, merchandise, services) on a random event in the hope of winning another item of value. It’s an ancient activity that has had both pro and anti-gambling movements throughout history, but most individuals who gamble participate for the social benefits of entertainment. However, some people become too involved with gambling to the point of causing harm and distress.

A person may be considered to be addicted to gambling if they: (1) gambles excessively in spite of negative consequences; (2) conceals the extent of his or her involvement with gambling from family members, friends, and others; (3) lies to conceal involvement with gambling; (4) commits illegal activities (forgery, theft, embezzlement, etc.) to finance gambling; or (5) spends more time and money on gambling than he or she can afford, often hiding evidence of this behavior; (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

There are many ways to help someone who is a problem gambler. Getting support and advice from friends, family or other professionals is important, as is finding healthy ways to relieve unpleasant emotions, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, taking up new hobbies, or practicing relaxation techniques. It is also important to take control of your finances and limit access to credit cards, close online betting accounts, or have someone else be in charge of your money. You should also make sure to start with a fixed amount of money that you are ready to lose, and only gamble with that.