Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves a wager on something with an uncertain outcome and a potential prize. Some examples include betting on the outcome of a game, a race or a lottery. Many people enjoy gambling for the social interaction it offers and for the thrill of winning. However, a small number of people develop a problem. Problem gambling can be costly in financial, emotional and physical ways. It can also disrupt relationships and jobs.

Problem gambling can occur in any setting. It can be found in casinos, lotteries and online games. It is also prevalent in private activities, like card games and betting on sports events. Some individuals even bet on video games and collectible trading cards (such as Magic: The Gathering and Pogs).

Research suggests that a person’s personality and environment may contribute to their risk of developing a gambling disorder. Some individuals are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity. They may also have an underactive brain reward system, which can cause them to gamble compulsively. Other individuals are more susceptible to problem gambling because of family and community values, which can reinforce risk-taking behavior.

People with a gambling disorder can benefit from professional treatment. Therapy can help a person identify their triggers and learn new coping skills. It can also challenge negative thought patterns, such as the illusion of control and irrational beliefs, which can increase compulsive gambling. Other treatments that may be beneficial include support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.