The Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is an activity in which a person risks something of value in the hope of winning something of greater value. The gambler may bet on sports events, buy lottery tickets, or place bets on games of chance such as poker and blackjack. Gambling can be done for fun, as a way to pass the time, or as a means to make money. However, gambling can also cause harm. There are many organisations that offer support, assistance and counselling for people who have gambling problems. They can help you control your gambling or quit completely. They can also offer support for family and friends.

Problem gambling can affect all types of people and at all levels of society. It can take many forms, from playing cards or board games with friends for small amounts of money, to participating in a friendly sports betting pool to purchasing lottery tickets. It can also involve professional gambling where the gambler makes a living by betting on sporting and other events. Some problem gamblers are able to control their spending and only gamble when they can afford to do so, but for others it can become a vicious cycle.

Those with a gambling disorder may find it difficult to recognise their problem and seek help. A common reaction is to try to minimise their problem or deny that they have a problem, and this can lead to secretive behaviour such as hiding evidence of their gambling activities. They might hide credit card statements from their spouses or lie about how much they are gambling. Some even attempt suicide as a last resort. These responses can have serious consequences for the gambler and their families.

Studies of the impacts of gambling usually focus on financial and labor and health/wellbeing issues at personal, interpersonal, or community/society level (Fig. 1). The financial impact is measured through changes in income and expenditures, and the labor and health/wellbeing issues are measured as changes in work productivity, absenteeism, reduction in performance, and job gains and losses. The social/community level external impacts are generally non-monetary and include costs related to problem gambling and long-term costs.

The vast majority of research on gambling has been conducted in North America and concerns casino effects. These gross impact studies tend to overemphasize the benefits of gambling and underestimate the costs. They also do not fully account for the fact that gambling revenues are often redirected from other spending in the community.

Some studies have attempted to address these problems, but most of them are too general in scope and lack rigorous methodology. They fail to consider the complexities of identifying costs and benefits, or the interaction between them. Moreover, they often neglect the importance of expenditure substitution effects or the geographic dimensions of the study. In addition, they typically rely on published news accounts and bankruptcy court opinions, which are often region-specific, anecdotal, and poorly documented. Consequently, few of these studies have made a significant contribution to our understanding of gambling’s economic effects.

You may also like