Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance and hoping to gain something of value. This can include a variety of activities such as playing bingo, buying lotto tickets, betting on sports events or using the pokies. Some people may feel they have a gambling problem if their gambling is causing harm, distress and/or negative life problems. These could be financial, family, work, health, relationships or mental wellbeing issues. Often when people are in trouble with their gambling they will try to hide it or lie about how much they are spending or even that they gamble. A good way to prevent harm is to only gamble with money you can afford to lose and to only gamble for a reasonable amount of time. It is also important to avoid chasing your losses as this will only lead to bigger and bigger losses.
Historically, the psychiatric community has not seen pathological gambling as an addictive disorder in the same way that it sees kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair pulling). However, in May 2013 the American Psychiatric Association changed this and moved PG into the chapter on impulse control disorders alongside kleptomania, pyromania, trichotillomania and substance abuse. This move was made to increase the credibility of PG as an addictive disorder and to encourage awareness, screening and treatment. This new classification allows for a more comprehensive definition of harm which includes legacy and intergenerational harms as well as a broader range of negative outcomes than just gambling related harms. This shift is consistent with public health approaches to harm and the recognition that gambling is often a contributor to, or exacerbates, other harmful behaviours and reduced life quality.