Gambling is an activity where people wager real money, or other items of value, on the outcome of a game, event, or situation. While some forms of gambling are regulated, others are not. Unlike other activities such as sports or television, where the outcomes of games are predetermined, in gambling the result is decided by chance. Gambling can take many forms, from placing bets on football teams to buying scratchcards. It is common for teenagers to engage in non-regulated forms of gambling, such as marbles or collecting cards (Pogs or Magic: The Gathering).
Psychiatrists once regarded pathological gambling as a form of compulsive behavior, similar to addictions to drugs and alcohol. However, in recent years, they have increasingly recognized that it is an underlying mental illness that needs to be treated. Often, treatment involves cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which teaches people to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. Specifically, it teaches people to confront irrational beliefs such as the notion that a series of losses signals an imminent win.
Despite being an established commercial activity, gambling is also controversial due to its potential negative social and economic impact. While the methodology for estimating the net positive effects of gambling is fairly well-established, substantial work remains to be done in identifying and measuring the costs associated with pathological gambling. Among other things, these include the indirect costs related to bankruptcy and bad debts that increase credit costs for society as a whole.