What Is Gambling?


Gambling is any game in which you stake something of value – often money – on the outcome of a random event. This can include scratchcards, fruit machines, a lottery ticket or even betting with friends on sports events or other events.

The risk is that you’ll lose the money you staked – or worse, your own personal wealth and well-being. People can gamble at casinos, race tracks and other gambling establishments as well as online or on TV. The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to tiles unearthed in ancient China. It can also be conducted with materials that don’t have monetary value, such as marbles in a marbles game or collecting cards for games like Magic: The Gathering.

While gambling can be fun and social, there are many risks and it’s important to know your limits. If you find yourself unable to control your gambling, it may be a sign of a mental health issue. If this is the case, speak to your GP or StepChange for free debt advice.

There are also negative effects on a societal level, including financial, labour and health and wellbeing impacts. These are not generally accounted for in gambling studies, which only focus on financial impacts such as changes to a person’s financial situation. However, this approach ignores the non-monetary impacts, such as invisible costs to family members, community/societal level costs (e.g. social care cost) and long-term impacts such as addiction.

Posted in: Gambling