Gambling involves risking something of value (such as money, goods or services) on an event that is random and has a potential prize. Whether it is a lottery ticket, placing a bet on a football match or playing the pokies, gambling is not just an activity for the wealthy. It affects many people in society and can cause serious problems with health, family and finances.

While most people who gamble do so responsibly, some develop a problem that can impact their daily lives and lead to harmful behaviours. Harmful gambling can affect relationships, employment and school or work performance, and can also have negative impacts on physical or mental health. It may also result in debt, bankruptcy and even suicide. It can be a difficult condition to treat and may require professional help, but there are treatment options available.

In the United States, over two million people are estimated to have a gambling disorder. Gambling disorders have a range of symptoms and can be found across the lifespan, from early adolescence through late adulthood. It is thought that a combination of factors makes some individuals more susceptible to gambling disorders, including genetics, environment and personality traits. Individuals with a history of trauma, depression or anxiety and poor coping skills or social learning are also at risk.

The most common forms of gambling in the United States include lotteries, casino gaming, sports betting and horse racing. In recent years, online gambling has become more popular and is accessible to people from all over the world. People who gamble are exposed to a wide variety of messages, advertising and products that are designed to keep them gambling.

Gambling is a risky and addictive activity that can have many negative consequences for an individual, family and community. A number of factors are involved in the development of gambling disorders, and many people with a disorder are not diagnosed or treated. Some types of therapy can be effective in treating a gambling disorder, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy and family therapy.

While there is a consensus that gambling harm exists, there are differing views about the extent of harm, and how to measure it. This is partly due to the fact that the concept of harm is subjective, and reflects a social model of health. In addition, it can be difficult to isolate the effects of gambling from the influence of comorbidities such as depression and alcohol abuse. Nonetheless, it is important that research and treatment providers have an agreed definition of harm in order to provide consistent support for people with gambling related issues. To achieve this, we have developed a conceptual framework and taxonomy for gambling harm, which can be used by researchers and treatment providers. This is a valuable resource for those who want to understand how gambling harms occur, and how best to reduce them. It is hoped that the framework and taxonomy will contribute to a greater shared understanding of gambling harm amongst researchers, treatment providers and policy makers.