Gambling involves risking money or something else of value on an event involving chance (such as betting on a football match or scratchcard). If you guess the outcome correctly, you win money. If you lose, you’ve lost your money. You can gamble in many ways, including playing card games, fruit machines and betting with friends. You can also place bets on a horse race or other sporting events and even speculate on business, insurance or stock markets.

Almost everyone has a gambling experience at some point, but for some people it can become a problem and cause harm. Gambling problems can lead to debt, which is why it’s important to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and never chase losses. It’s also a good idea to keep track of how much time and money you spend on gambling, so that you don’t go overboard.

The positive social impact of gambling is that it allows people from different backgrounds to connect over a shared interest and build new friendships. It also encourages people to think creatively and improves their concentration and intelligence.

The risk factors for gambling disorders include mood or mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Trauma and social inequality can also increase the chances of harmful gambling behaviour. Some people can stop their gambling behaviour on their own, but many need help to address it. Counselling and other psychological therapies can be useful, especially cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). There are also self-help groups for problem gamblers, and some research has shown that physical activity helps.