Gambling is a game of chance that involves risking money in the hopes of obtaining something of value. The earliest forms of gambling date back to ancient China, when tiles were used to play a rudimentary game of lottery-style wagering.
There are many reasons people engage in gambling. Among these are to socialize and alleviate stress. In addition, the opportunity to win a prize enthralls many individuals, and some gamblers have become addicted to the thrill of winning.
While most gamblers only wager small amounts of money, there are some who become addicted to gambling, which can lead to financial and emotional problems. Gambling addiction may be diagnosed as a disorder and treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. Individuals who seek treatment for a gambling problem are advised to seek support from friends and family. People can also call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to about 2,300 B.C. During the late 20th century, state-operated lotteries in the United States and Europe grew rapidly. A large proportion of this growth was due to legalization.
In the United States, 80% of adults say that casinos are okay. However, felony gambling convictions are more common in organized professional gambling environments. If someone is convicted of felony gambling, they could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
Gambling is a lucrative business, with a total market size estimated at $335 billion in 2009. It is one of the most popular commercial activities in the world. As such, many jurisdictions heavily regulate the activity.
Although there are no known FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, therapy is available to help those with gambling problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and psychodynamic therapy are some types of treatment. Family therapy can be particularly helpful, as it can help people understand the root of their gambling problems and provide a supportive environment for recovering.
Depending on the nature of the offense, a misdemeanor gambling fine can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Those with felony gambling convictions can face jail time, in addition to the fine.
Many states have created gambling helplines, which can be accessed by phone or online. These helplines provide counseling and peer support to people who wish to stop gambling. Counseling is confidential and free.
Adolescents engage in a variety of regulated and non-regulated forms of gambling. Problems associated with adolescent gambling are different than those for older adults and can result in social alienation, homelessness, and loss of identity. Some adolescents engage in gambling to escape from their lives and to earn money. Others do it simply for fun.
Historically, compulsive gambling has been more prevalent in men, but women are becoming more common as well. Women may start gambling later in life. Those who have a family history of problem gambling have a higher likelihood of developing the disorder themselves. Compulsive gambling can be triggered by trauma, such as losing a loved one.