Gambling refers to any activity in which a person stakes something valuable on the outcome of a chance event or game with uncertain probabilities. In the broadest sense, this includes activities like playing card games for money or chips, placing a bet on a horse race or football game, or even betting on a team’s success in a friendly competition. Some gambling takes place in casinos or other public venues and is regulated by law, while others involve private wagers between friends or relatives.

While some forms of gambling are purely recreational, they can also become addictive. People who develop a problem with gambling often feel compelled to hide their behavior, lie to family and friends, or spend more than they can afford. They may secretly gamble in order to feel a rush, or they might try to recover losses by gambling more money. Some people are especially vulnerable to developing a problem with gambling, including young people and men.

People who are unable to control their gambling can be at risk of harming their health, finances, relationships, and work performance. Although it’s important to recognize the signs of gambling addiction and seek help, overcoming this condition requires support from friends and family. In addition, it’s helpful to engage in therapeutic interventions such as marriage, career, and credit counseling. Another good strategy is to join a peer support group for gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which offers 12-step recovery programs modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.