Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value. It may be played with money, goods, or services, such as merchandise, meals, or hotel rooms. It also can be conducted with non-monetary items of value, such as game pieces (e.g., marbles, small discs, or trading cards), in a game that is not gambling for real money, such as Pogs or Magic: The Gathering.
While many people enjoy gambling as a way to socialize or relax, for some it can have negative effects on personal and professional life, health, family relationships, and finances. For example, gambling can increase debt and even lead to homelessness and suicide.
There are various ways to treat compulsive gambling, including cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps the person learn to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. Patients with gambling addictions can also benefit from treatment for underlying mood disorders, such as depression or stress, which are often made worse by compulsive gambling.
Several studies have attempted to measure the social impacts of gambling, but there are challenges in doing so. Specifically, most social impacts are non-monetary in nature, which makes them difficult to quantify. As a result, many researchers have focused only on monetary costs and benefits when calculating the impact of gambling. However, a framework for measuring societal gambling impacts has been developed by Walker and Williams . This model defines societal social impacts as costs or benefits that aggregate societal real wealth and do not necessarily affect an individual or household directly.