Gambling involves the wagering of something of value on a random event with awareness of the risk and in the hope of gain. It ranges from the purchase of lottery tickets by people with little money, to the sophisticated casino gambling of the wealthy; and it can be socially sanctioned or illegal.

While some gamble as a form of recreation, others do so out of boredom, depression, grief, or to escape from daily life and its obligations. It can also affect family and work, cause financial ruin, poor health, and even lead to suicide. Public Health England reports that a significant proportion of suicides are linked to problem gambling.

Research in gambling has often been framed from the perspective of personality, attitudes, and beliefs. However, this article argues that gambling is better understood as a social practice. Practice theory provides a framework for understanding the socio-cultural constructs of gambling and how these may be used to shape, justify, or support it. This approach to gambling can be used to inform and enhance the discipline of gambling studies.

If you or someone you love is struggling with gambling addiction, there are many resources available to help. The first step is admitting that there is a problem and seeking professional help. If you are unsure where to start, BetterHelp can match you with licensed, accredited therapists who specialize in gambling addiction and other mental health issues. The initial assessment takes just minutes and is completely free.