Gambling involves placing something of value (usually money) on an event with the intention of winning something else of value. It is a bargain that – unless they are delusional – the gambler enters into knowingly. While some gambling events such as lottery or coin flipping rely on chance, others such as poker, blackjack, and sports betting involve skill. It is this difference that separates gambling from insurance, which is more akin to gambling in that it involves shifting risk from one party to another.
People who have a problem with gambling often find themselves lying to family members, therapists and friends in order to conceal their addiction. In some cases, they will even steal in order to fund their habit. This type of behaviour is called ‘compulsive’ gambling and can cause significant harm to the gambler, their family and the wider community.
Like other consumer products, the betting industry promotes its wares through advertising campaigns such as TV commercials and social media ads. These campaigns aim to convince the punter that they have a decent shot at winning some money, even though – in the long term at least – they probably don’t. The reliance on luck and the fact that many bets are made in hope rather than expectation means that gamblers can be influenced by their emotions, as well as their irrational beliefs about odds and probabilities. For example, the belief that certain rituals can bring good fortune – or that they can win back their losses by wagering more – can be pervasive.