Gambling is when you bet something of value on a game with chance, such as scratchcards or fruit machines. If you predict the outcome correctly, you win money. If you lose, you lose the amount you bet. Some games are purely chance-based and others require skill, such as sports betting or blackjack. Gambling is legal in some countries, but not all, and it’s highly regulated. Some people have a gambling addiction, which can have serious consequences for them and their families.

It is important to recognize problem gambling. It can affect anyone from any walk of life and is often hidden, but it can damage relationships and careers. It can also lead to financial disaster and even cause people to steal money or run up huge debts. It can be very hard to cope with a loved one who has a gambling problem, and some family members may try to control their finances to prevent relapse.

There are a few things to remember when you’re thinking about gambling:

1. You should always think about the risk and potential for losing your money. Gambling can be addictive, and it’s important to weigh up the risks and rewards before you start playing. Make sure you only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. And be aware that casinos are designed to keep you there for longer by offering free cocktails and other drinks. Remember that the more you drink, the worse your judgement will be when it comes to gambling.

2. Avoid using gambling to self-soothe or relieve boredom. There are healthier ways to do this, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques. You can also find more fun and exciting activities to do that don’t involve a gamble, such as going for a swim, taking up a new hobby or going out for dinner with friends.

3. If you can’t stop gambling, speak to a therapist. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help if you have a gambling addiction, as it will look at the beliefs you have around betting and how they affect your behaviour. It can also teach you strategies to help you stop gambling, such as setting money and time limits for yourself and never chasing your losses.

4. Gambling can lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. There is a strong link between problem gambling and mental health problems, and these can be difficult to tackle. If you’re worried about your mental health, contact your GP or StepChange for advice and support.

5. Adolescents are more at risk of gambling problems than other age groups. This could be because they have less financial freedom than older adults and are more likely to be under pressure from parents, work or school. Adolescents who have a gambling problem are more likely to experience adverse consequences, such as relationship difficulties and alienation from family and friends.

If you are worried about a teenager’s gambling habits, speak to a counsellor or therapist. They will be able to give you advice and support and offer further referrals if necessary.