Gambling is when you stake something valuable (like money or other goods) on a game of chance with the hope of winning a prize. It can happen in casinos, racetracks, on the Internet and at home. Some people gamble for a living and others do it to have fun or relieve stress. Gambling is a form of addiction and can lead to financial, family and health problems. It is important to understand how gambling works and the risk factors associated with it so that you can protect yourself from gambling disorders.

While many people think that gambling only happens in glamorous casinos and racetracks, it is actually a part of everyday life. People place bets on sports events, the lottery and even their favourite team or TV show. People also gamble online and on their mobile phones. While the majority of gamblers are not compelled by an addiction to the activity, there is a growing number of people who experience pathological gambling, a serious disorder that can interfere with work and social lives.

The good news is that gambling is a treatable condition. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to change how you think about betting and your beliefs about luck. It can also address underlying mood disorders, such as depression, which may trigger or worsen gambling behaviours.

In fact, in the past, psychiatric experts largely viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. It was placed under the category of impulse control disorders, along with kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). But this year, in what some consider to be a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling from the impulsive disorders section to the addictions chapter of its diagnostic manual, the DSM-5. The move reflects the understanding that pathological gambling is similar to other addictive behaviors, such as drug addiction or eating disorders.

It can be very hard to deal with a loved one’s problem gambling. Especially in the case of elderly parents, it can feel like it is easier to give in and let them bet “just this once.” But doing so will only make matters worse. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to take steps to ensure that your family’s finances are not being used to fuel gambling habits.

The first step is to set limits around how much time and money a person can spend gambling. In addition, you should discuss the warning signs of gambling disorders with your loved ones and ensure that there are other activities that they enjoy doing. For example, you can encourage them to participate in community sports and other social activities that are not gambling related. Lastly, it is important to understand that a problem gambling disorder is not something that can be fixed overnight and it takes commitment and patience to overcome it. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment as soon as you notice any warning signs of a problem. This may include inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs.