Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value on the outcome of a game or contest or uncertain event with awareness of the risk and in the hope of gain. It varies from lottery tickets and the betting of small sums of money by people who have little, to the sophisticated casino gambling of the wealthy, either for profit (if they are skilful) or as a pastime. Whether legal or not, gambling is not usually regarded as socially admirable. It can impoverish families or keep families impoverished; it may lead to blackmail and is often controlled by organized crime. Where there is gambling, there is usually also cheating (if only for a casino to recover or stave-off losses to a skilful gambler) and there may also be bribery (in sports), or doping or even sabotage to ensure winning a bet. This may lead to violent recrimination, even murder and vendetta. Extensive gambling concerns may involve the corruption of public officials.
Gambling has existed in every known society from the most primitive to the most complex. Dice games and guessing games are recorded in Stone Age cultures, among Bushmen of South Africa, Australian aborigines and American indians. Dice dating from 3000 BC were found in an Egyptian tomb; a gaming board is cut into a step to the Acropolis in Athens; and there is abundant evidence of gambling in the decadent era of the Roman Empire. Gambling fashions change with the times and odds are that new forms will continue to occupy generations to come.
Gambling may be legalized or partially legalized and provide useful government revenue.