Gambling is an activity in which someone puts something of value at risk on the outcome of a random event. It is a common and harmless pastime for some people but for others it becomes an addiction causing them problems in their personal and professional lives. Problem gambling can affect their physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study and finances. In some cases, it can even lead to homelessness or suicide. The problem is that it is difficult to recognise the signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction, especially when it comes to online gambling, where the lines between gaming and other activities can be blurred.

A person with a gambling disorder may be at increased risk for depression, which commonly co-occurs with gambling disorders. Some studies show that mood problems often precede the onset of a gambling disorder, while other research initiatives have been unable to establish directionality.

There are a wide range of different types of gambling, including betting on sports events, lotteries, games of chance, and wagering on horse races or card games. In addition, online gambling has become increasingly popular and offers more ways to place bets than ever before. There is also a growing market for legalised online casinos, where players can play games of chance for real money.

It is estimated that about 20 percent of Americans have a gambling disorder. Those with pathological gambling (PG) tend to begin their problematic behavior at an early age, and their involvement with the activity increases over time. Those with PG are more likely to have trouble with strategic forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, rather than nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive types of gambling, like slot machines or bingo.

People who have a gambling disorder may be in denial about their problem or try to conceal it. They might lie to family members or therapists about their gambling or hide evidence of it, such as hiding their credit cards or withdrawing cash. They might also commit illegal acts, such as forgery or fraud, to finance their gambling. They might spend more and more of their income on gambling, putting themselves in financial difficulty. They might even steal from friends or relatives.

The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have one. This can be hard to do, particularly if you’ve lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships in the process. Once you’ve done this, you can seek help from a therapist who specialises in treating compulsive gambling. You can also find support groups for people with gambling problems, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step recovery program similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups can help you rebuild your life and get back on track. You can also seek therapy for underlying mood issues that may be contributing to your gambling disorder, such as depression or anxiety. These services can help you overcome these issues and stop them from resurfacing in the future.