Gambling is betting money or something of value on an event whose outcome depends on chance. It involves three elements: consideration, risk, and a prize.

It is an addictive activity that can have a negative impact on people’s lives. Problem gamblers often end up in debt and their relationships suffer. They may also experience depression, anxiety and other health problems. In some cases, compulsive gambling can lead to suicide.

Whether or not gambling is an addiction, there are still a number of things you can do to prevent it from happening to you. First, decide how much money you are willing to spend. Only gamble with money you can afford to lose and never with money that you need for bills or other expenses. Also, always play for fun and only with friends.

If you are worried about a friend or family member’s gambling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many support groups and therapists that specialize in gambling disorders. Also, if someone in your family is a problem gambler, you can take steps to set boundaries on their use of credit cards and other financial resources. You can also make sure they have an emergency fund and close online betting accounts.

In the past, psychiatric experts viewed pathological gambling as a compulsion and grouped it with other impulse-control disorders, like kleptomania (stealing) and trichotillomania (hair pulling). But in a move that could revolutionize how doctors treat this problem, the APA has moved it into the addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.