The Social Impacts of Gambling

Gambling involves betting something of value on an event that is determined by chance. It is a form of entertainment and people enjoy it for socializing, skill development and the hope of winning big. However, when gambling becomes a problem it can cause harm to individuals and their families. Taking steps to stop gambling can help, and there are support groups like Gamlers Anonymous that can offer advice and guidance. Having debt problems can also make it difficult to gamble responsibly, but there are ways to get free from debt. Speak to a StepChange adviser for free, confidential advice.

Compulsive gambling is a serious disorder that affects a person’s quality of life and may result in a range of adverse outcomes. It can range from behaviors that put people at risk for developing more serious problems (subclinical) to those that meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, diagnosable criteria for pathological gambling (PG). Compulsive gambling is associated with a variety of negative outcomes such as depression, anxiety, financial difficulties, relationship problems, substance abuse and even suicide.

The underlying causes of PG are complex and multidimensional. Various factors are associated with the development of PG, including genetic predisposition, age, gender and family history. Several studies have shown that a high prevalence of PG is associated with family members with a history of a gambling problem. Other risk factors include low education, adolescence, and sex. Compared to men, women are more likely to develop a gambling problem and have higher rates of impulsivity.

Gambling is a common activity that can affect a person’s quality of life, but many people don’t realize the risks involved. While some people gamble regularly, others do so less often or not at all. However, gambling can still have an impact on the community and society.

A few studies have examined the social impacts of gambling and found that they can be observed at the individual, interpersonal and community/society levels. Interpersonal and community/society level externalities include costs and benefits that are invisible at the individual level, such as social distancing, family stress and the effect of escalating gambling to bankruptcy or homelessness.

Interpersonal and community/society impacts can have long-term effects on an individual, which may create a change in their life course and even pass between generations. Nevertheless, methodological challenges exist when examining these impacts. These include identifying what portion of gambling activities are the direct cause of these impacts and how to measure them. Furthermore, there are limitations on what type of measures can be used in assessing these impacts. For example, a cost of illness approach, commonly used in alcohol and drug research, only considers costs to the individual and neglects benefits to the community/society. A more comprehensive approach to analyzing these effects is needed.