Gambling is the betting of something of value upon a future contingent event not under the control or influence of the gambler. It does not include bona fide business transactions such as contracts for the purchase of goods at a future date, agreements to compensate another person in case of loss caused by the happening of chance, and insurance policies.
People with gambling disorders experience difficulty controlling their urges to gamble and experience negative consequences from their behavior. They frequently seek out more and more risky gambles, or larger bets to obtain the desired excitement. They may lie about their gambling to family and friends, or even to themselves. They often feel restless or irritable when trying to cut down on or stop gambling, and they try to compensate for these feelings by engaging in other activities such as alcohol consumption or drugs.
Studies of identical twins suggest that gambling disorder tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. Research also indicates that many people who have gambling problems begin their gambling habit in childhood. Other studies suggest that people who are prone to depression and anxiety are more likely to develop gambling disorder than others.
Gambling is not possible without a decision to gamble, money to place bets, and the use of equipment such as dice, cards, or machines. It is important to reduce these factors by limiting credit card use, keeping someone else in charge of the bank account, closing online gambling accounts, and only carrying a small amount of cash on you. It is also helpful to find healthier ways of relieving unpleasant emotions and socialising, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up new hobbies. You may also want to join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous.