The Social Costs of Gambling


Gambling is the wagering of something of value (cash or other items) on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. It may be a form of entertainment, or it may involve skill that improves the odds of winning, as in betting on horse races or card games. It also may take place with materials that have a monetary value but do not represent real money, such as marbles or collectible game pieces (e.g., trading cards or Magic: The Gathering).

A number of social, environmental, and economic benefits associated with gambling have been identified. These benefits include the creation of jobs, increased income, tax revenue, community revitalization, and tourism. However, a number of costs are also associated with gambling, including higher crime rates, addiction, and other negative social and psychological consequences.

The economic benefits and costs of gambling are a complex and controversial issue, and studies that attempt to quantify these impacts can vary widely. For example, gross impact studies usually provide only a limited accounting of the overall economic effects, and do not seek to address important issues such as expenditure substitution effects and the distinction between direct and indirect costs, tangible and intangible effects, and real and transfer costs.

Moreover, these studies tend to focus on only one aspect of the gambling industry, and do not attempt to distinguish between the effects of pathological and nonpathological gambling. Similarly, the economic impact of casinos is often measured in terms of revenue and employment, without taking into account the social costs of gambling.

Research on the social costs of gambling is difficult, in part because there are few agreed-upon metrics for describing and measuring them. For example, researchers may use different paradigms or world views to frame their questions and analyze the data, which can lead to different interpretations and conclusions. Consequently, there is a need for better nomenclature and standardized methodologies to facilitate discussion of the social costs of gambling.

If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, get help immediately. You can find help and support in a variety of ways, including self-help programs, peer groups, family and friends, or a doctor or psychologist. You can also make lifestyle changes to reduce your temptations – for example, by closing online betting accounts or limiting the amount of cash you carry with you. In addition, it’s important to strengthen your support network by spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or joining activities that give you a sense of accomplishment, like sports teams or book clubs. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor or therapist if you have an underlying mood disorder, like depression or anxiety, that could trigger or make gambling problems worse. Then you can learn how to cope with these conditions and manage your gambling habits. Lastly, be sure to keep up with your regular check-ups and other health care needs. These can help prevent gambling-related illnesses. And remember, the most important step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.